Dick Grayson couldn't keep track of time. He seemed to fade in and out of it. There was Shrike and Dinah and ribs popping. There were hands lifting him and struggling to his feet. There was Barbara, her voice soothing, her hands holding his. The doctor, was there a doctor? Then there was nothing. He was dreaming, not dreaming, remembering. Barbara.

...so hot and tight, moving beneath him, her legs wrapped around his waist...yes...yes, wait...the chair. Joker! Those goddamned pictures! No! Don't think about the pictures. Stuck in his head now...the blood...the broken glass...Barbara...crying on the roof of the hospital...unable to go to her...trying to pull himself together...the other day...when they saved Clancy, so relieved...a good day, the best kind...wanted to share it with his best girl...Barbara...kissing him, like before...passion...her mouth hungry for him...his hands moving to unzip her sweatshirt...she pulls away suddenly...her hands tremble...she isn't ready...how could she not be ready? She was always ready for him...always ready...never pushed him away before...please...

"You in there?"

He could hear her. Why wouldn't his eyes open?

"Earth to planet Grayson."

He opened his eyes, blurry, then Barbara.

"Don't you ever scare me like that again," she smiled.

Dick struggled to sit up. "Promise. What about—"

"Shrike? Seems like he has a police record going back to childhood. At least the record I wrote for him did."

She falsified a police report? "Babs..."

"Shut up, Boy Wonder..." Then she kissed him.

She made the first move. His heart leapt as he opened his mouth to her. Every muscle in his body hurt. Every breath sent a piercing pain through his side, but it all melted away when she moved her hand across his chest. She pulled out of the kiss and it all came back. He brought his hand up to press against his side trying to hold the pain back.

"Shhh," she soothed, taking off her glasses, and putting her hand lightly against his chest. "Lay back Boy Wonder, this is all about you."

Then her mouth was on him, hot and wet. She cupped him with one hand and twined the fingers of her other hand through his. God, how long had it been since she'd done this to him? It seemed like a million years ago, but here she was just as she had been. She was so good. He missed this so much. Too soon he felt the pressure building. "Babs, I'm gonna—"

She moved off him for a moment. "Shhh."

And then she was back and he let go. Sleep crashed in around him even as he fought it. He wanted her next to him. They needed to talk about this.

Barbara kissed his forehead. "Get some sleep."

...they were on the roof of Wayne Industries...still in costume...Batgirl taunting him...come on Robin...nervous...if Batman found out...oh God...her hands...her mouth...finally...pounding into her...up against the refrigeration unit...out in the open...under the stars...her laughing...laughing...The Joker...laughing...laughing

Dick awoke with a start. He sat up and instantly regretted it. "Crap," he groaned and eased back against the pillow. He fumbled for the switch on the bedside lamp.

Barbara came rolling into the room. "You're awake."

"Only for a minute, how did you—"

She picked up small sphere next to the bed. "I had a camera on you."

Dick frowned. "That's kind of creepy."

She shrugged. "Sorry, I had work to do, but I wanted to keep an eye on you in case you needed anything."

"What time is it?"

"Almost 2:00."

"AM?"

Barbara nodded.

"Then I do need something."

"What?"

"I need you in here with me."

She dropped her eyes and looked at the floor.

Uh oh, Jesus, did I dream that blowjob? He touched her hand. "Babs..."

"I don't think that's such a good idea. You need your rest."

"I'll rest better with you next to me. Please, Babs, come to bed."

She bit her bottom lip. She seemed to be pondering her choices. Finally she relented. "Yeah, okay."

Dick drew back the sheets to make room for her.

She moved her wheelchair next to the bed and pulled herself over, then pulled her legs up onto the bed.

"Should I get your coat?" Dick asked.

"What?"

"Well, you've got the rest of your clothes on."

"Listen, Boy Wonder, you're in no shape for nudity."

He looked up at her with his best, wounded puppy look. Barbara sighed. She reached over him and turned off the light, plunging the room into darkness. He could hear her pulling her clothes off. Finally she rested warm and mostly naked beside him; she had left on her panties. "Thank you," he said, nuzzling against her.

She kissed his shoulder. "Shhh, go to sleep."

The sunlight streaming through the extra high windows of Barbara's warehouse bedroom woke him. He rolled to face Barbara and his breath caught. The sheet had slipped down to her waist. Her back was a riddled with thin white scars. He assumed they were the affects of having been dragged through broken glass by The Joker after he shot her. Toward the base of her spine was a much larger, uglier scar, the exit wound, and beneath that the long thin surgical scar. "Oh, Babs," he said softly and reached out to run his fingers across her back.

He heard her wake with a sharp intake of breath. She rolled over onto her back and pulled the sheet up in one swift motion. "Don't."

"Don't what?"

She looked at him. "Just...don't. I know it's awful."

"It's not awful. I just hadn't seen it before."

Barbara sat up, reaching for her chair.

"Hey, where are you going?"

"I should get up. You're probably hungry. I should make breakfast."

Dick tugged at the sheet. "I am hungry, but I don't want breakfast."

Barbara held fast to the sheet covering her. "Look—"

"No, you look, if you think you're going to get out of this bed without me making love to you first, you've got another think coming."

"You have broken ribs."

"I'm willing to work around that."

"I don't think—"

"Don't think. This isn't about thinking." He sat up next to her and touched his hand to her cheek. "Come on, Babs. We've made love a hundred times before, most of those times we weren't even dating. Now we are dating, what's the hold up?"

"That was before..."

"Before?" He looked at her, the light dawning. "You haven't been with anyone since you got shot." In retrospect, he probably shouldn't have said that, but the words tumbled out before he could stop them.

Barbara shut her eyes and swallowed hard. "No."

Dick was stunned. Barbara going without sex, wow, it boggled the mind. Then he had a horrible plaguing doubt. "It isn't, I mean, you still can, can't you?"

Barbara wouldn't look at him. "Technically, yes. But it's not going to be what you're used to, you'll be disappointed."

He laughed. "Babs, guys are never disappointed with sex."

"Well, it's not going to be wild monkey love on the rooftops."

"Sex on the rooftops used to scare me to death. I was always afraid Bruce would catch us. There is nothing wrong with sex in a bed, Babs."

She frowned at him.

"No, I mean it. You should try it. Beds are 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 tugged on the sheet again. "Come on, Babs, you were my first ever. Let me be your first now."

She looked up at him. He smiled at her.

"Yeah, okay," she said, and dropped the sheet, but looked away from him.

He couldn't help smiling as he took her all in. She was beautiful. "I've said it before, Babs, but it bears repeating. You've got the best breasts 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.

He sat up to kiss her and winced. His ribs throbbed on his left side.

"Ooh," she said, "I knew this wouldn't work. You need to rest."

"I need you." He shifted to his right side. "Come here."

She gave him a stern look but complied, scooting close to him. As she faced him, she reached to adjust her legs. It was clear from the expression on her face that it bothered her for him to see that. He hated that. He hated that she was embarrassed in front of him. Perhaps the best thing was to just move forward as though he didn't notice anything unusual. He slid his had up to cup her jaw and kissed her. There was a moment's hesitation on her part then she opened her mouth to him. They kissed for a long time. He was in the mood to take it slow. He'd always enjoyed kissing Babs, but the extra time allowed him to formulate a plan as to how to work around her legs and his ribs. What a pair we are here, he thought. He let his hands begin to wander down her sides, on the insides of her arms, feather touches. As he trailed his hands over her hips, making lazy circles on her thighs, she pulled out of the kiss and rested her forehead against his chest. She moaned softly.

He kissed her ear. "You okay?"

"Yes," she hissed, "don't stop." She rolled over on her back and he let his hand dance around her hipbone. As he moved his fingers across her belly he stopped on a puckered circle of flesh below her bellybutton. Entrance wound, he thought. He must have lingered there too long because Barbara laced her fingers through his and pushed his hand lower. He shifted to kiss her and a sharp pain shot through his side.

"Damn it," he groaned, holding his side.

Barbara leaned up on her elbows. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," he arched his back, trying to stretch out his ribcage to ease the pain.

Barbara chuckled softly.

"What?"

"We can't do this. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort, but this just isn't going to happen."

"Come on, Babs, I just need a minute."

"Dick, you're wounded, and I'm...let's just say, I'm not half the woman I used to be." She ran her fingers lightly over the length of him. "Now, why don't you let me take care of you, and then you can go back to sleep."

His eyes rolled back at her touch. Part of him wanted to say, yes, take care of me, but then his mind caught on her other comment. Half the woman she used to be? He didn't see it that way. In some ways, as Oracle, she was twice the woman she used to be. He was so proud of her. He loved her so much. He didn't want to give up. "My ribs are broken."

"Yes," she said, running her fingers over the bandage.

"But you know what feels fine?"

"What?"

"My knees."

"That's good—what are you doing?"

Dick stood and smiled at her. "Come here, Barbara." Without waiting for her to reply he knelt at the edge of the bed, gripped her hips and pulled her toward him. He swung her legs over the side of the bed and in one swift move her panties were off and across the room.

She came up on her elbows and looked at him. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

He grinned at her.

Finally, she found her voice, "Wait, 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." He loved that she was a natural redhead, so few were.

"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. He planted his hands on her thighs and moved his thumbs in lazy circles. 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 walked around to the other side of the bed and slid in on his right side.

Barbara rolled over onto her stomach, which put her eye level with his erection. "Turn about is fair play," she smiled.

Dick slipped his hands under her arms and pulled her up to face him, ignoring the sharp pain in his side at the effort. He moved her hair aside and ran his tongue along the outer edge of her ear. "As much as I love your mouth, and make no mistake, I do love your mouth, I want to be inside you."

She pulled away from him. "I don't know. I'm not sure I'm ready for that."

He tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "Why?"

She shook her head.

He kissed her forehead. "You need to tell me what you're thinking. We can work this out."

"It's not our problem. It's mine. There's nothing wrong with you."

"My ribs are broken." Dick smiled.

"They'll heal."

"Babs—"

"I'm not going to get any better, Dick. This is it. This is all I have to offer. It won't be enough."

Dick couldn't believe she thought that. Couldn't believe she didn't understand the depth of his feelings. "Barbara," he said, waiting for her to look up at him. "I have loved you since I was nine years old. Just being near you is enough."

She trailed her hand across his chest. "You say that now. But eventually, it won't be enough. You'll get bored with me."

He stared at her in disbelief. "I cannot fucking believe you just said that."

"It's true."

"It's not true. It will never be true." He slid down a few inches on the bed and hooked his hand over her right leg and pulled it over his hip until he was poised at her entrance. "Let me in. Please."

She shut her eyes and rested her forehead against his chest. Her nod was almost imperceptible, but it was enough. He pushed his way inside her and let her adjust to him being there. She was tight, tighter than he remembered and he needed a moment just to appreciate being back where he always felt most at home. "Yes," he whispered.

She shifted her hips slightly, and he moved deeper. This wasn't a fast position. They moved against each other slowly, mostly just enjoying the connection. Time seemed to slow down. He danced his hands across her hips and thighs as he had before until she was trembling. He kissed his way across her shoulders and up her neck to her ear. "You want to pick up the pace?"

Her breathing was shallow. "God, yes."

He wrapped an arm around her waist and rolled over onto his back, taking her with him. She pushed herself up on her hands, which put her breasts right where he wanted them. He grinned up at her and gripped behind her thighs and pulled her knees up to his sides. He shifted deeper inside and they both gasped.

He kissed her breasts. "Ready?"

She nodded and he thrust up. She shut her eyes.

"Is that okay?"

She moved her hands to his chest and leaned back, pushing him even deeper. "Harder."

"Yes, Ma'am."

She leaned back and set her hands down behind her.

He gripped her hips and set up a steady pounding rhythm. Too soon things began to quicken for him. He slid a hand between her legs hoping to take her with him. He had barely touched her before she began to clinch around him.

"Jesus, Barbara." He let go.

She moved a hand up to grab his shoulder and fell against him rather hard. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest.

"If this is the kind of boring sex you were talking about," he said into her hair, "I think I can live with it."

He could feel her laughing.

"You're evil, short pants."

"Nope, I'm a bonafide good guy, just ask anyone."

She kissed his chest.

"Maybe later."

It was after eight when Dick woke. He pushed his fingers through his hair and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Barbara was nowhere to be seen. His ribs were smarting, but not so bad that he was willing to take anything for the pain. He looked around the room, but couldn't find any of his clothes. He found one of her robes hanging in the closet. It was emerald green silk, but it beat walking out naked when Dinah or Cassandra or any number of other people could be talking to Barbara.

He was relieved to find her in the kitchen alone. Her hair was wet and she was wearing a white terry cloth robe. She had a bowl of strawberries in front of her that she was slicing.

"Are you hungry?" she asked as he walked into the kitchen.

"Always."

She smiled at him. "Strawberries and oatmeal?"

"Sounds terrific."

"The oatmeal's in the crock pot. Want to get two bowls?"

Dick pulled bowls out of the floor cabinet and ladled two heaps of oatmeal into them.

Barbara set the bowl of strawberries in her lap and rolled over to the small table that just had one chair.

Dick picked up the bowls and started walking to the table. "Babs, I'm feeling a little, I don't know. This is probably stupid, but I have to ask." He set the bowls on the table. "You're on the pill, right?"

Barbara began spooning strawberries onto the oatmeal. "No."

Dick sat down hard on the chair. "No?"

Barbara looked at him. She pushed a bowl of oatmeal toward him. "Nope."

He clapped a hand over his mouth. Oh, shit. "Okay, well, okay then."

Barbara proceeded to eat her oatmeal. She seemed preternaturally calm.

Dick tried to eat his oatmeal. "Cassandra back yet?"

"She got in a couple of hours ago."

"How was her night?"

"Quiet. Broke up a couple of guys trying to knock over a liquor store. That's it."

"Good." He put a spoonful of oatmeal into his mouth but it was all he could do to swallow. God, what if she's pregnant? Is that even safe? Bruce is going to kill me. How come she doesn't seem to care? Is that what she wanted?

"Babs—"

She held her fork up and traced a line through the air. "Below my bellybutton, through my uterus, to shatter my sacrum. I'm not pregnant, Dick. I'll never be pregnant."

"How did you—?"

"You were starting to turn green."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know." To his surprise, he really was sorry, actually felt the loss.

"I know. Don't worry about it. I'm past it."

But I'm not.

"How are your ribs this morning?"

"They still hurt, but not as bad."

"Leslie will be coming by in an hour to check on you. You should probably get a shower first."

He grinned at her.

"Don't get cocky. I'll change the sheets."

He finished his oatmeal and then stood and kissed her on the forehead. "I'm going to hit the shower."

Barbara watched him as he walked down the hall. She realized she wasn't alone. Cassandra was standing in the intersecting hallway that led to her bedroom. She raised her eyebrows when Barbara looked her way.

"Shut up." Barbara said.

Cassandra grinned, threw up her hands and shrugged.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Barbara grumbled and rolled back to her bedroom to change the sheets before Leslie arrived.