Batter My Heart

Author: Janine

Disclaimers: I do not own the characters of Helena, Barbara, Dinah, Batman, and Catwoman etc. They are the property of DC comics and I suppose the WB network and the creators of Smallville or whatever. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.

Fandom: Birds of Prey

Rating: R (for language and sexual situation)

Pairing: Helena/Barbara

Summary: Two lives brought together by chance and then tragedy. This is their story …

Email: me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

-John Donne

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She had the vague sensation of being wet. She could feel the material of her robe clinging to her body, hugging the sides and front and back of her torso, sticking to her, molding itself to her fresh. But she couldn't really feel it. It was like she was only slightly aware of it, like the feeling of the dentist sticking a needle into your gum under sedation. You could feel it going in, you knew what was happening, but it didn't hurt so it didn't feel real.

But this was real she was fairly certain. It would have been a rather elaborate dream. A long one too.

She was so numb. So cold.

Her ceiling was the worst thing she had ever seen. It was white. Just white. There wasn't a distinguishing mark on it. Not one single thing to focus on. It was blurring together until she wasn't even certain she was looking at anything. There was just a sheet of white enveloping her vision.

Maybe it wasn't the ceiling though. Perhaps it was her brain. Maybe it was shutting down. Maybe everything was finally shutting down and that's why she was so cold and so wet and so numb.

She was tired. She felt like she'd been awake for a long time.

How long had she been lying there? Cold and wet and numb? How long had she been staring at the ceiling?

'I should move', she thought to herself. 'I should call someone about this' she thought as her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

Her eyes flickered open and she dragged in ragged breath after ragged breath. It was getting difficult to breath now. Now matter how much she sucked in it didn't seem to be enough and every one brought in less than the one before it.

'I'm going to die' she thought to herself.

Her body jerked and she sputtered. She licked her lips and tasted blood.

'I'm going to die.'

She bumped against the side of the elevator door as she walked out, having turned to the side too quickly. She stumbled to the left towards the middle of the hallway, left foot moving before right. Everything around her seemed hazy and dull. She didn't know where she was going, and she felt like she was going to be sick.

She tripped, her hand coming down in front of her to rest on the floor stopping her from falling flat on her face. She got back up on uncertain feet and turned to her right.

She felt like she was going to be sick.

She was standing in front of a plain white door.

It was partially open. She reached for it tapping it with her finger, opening it some more. She automatically took a step forward and stepped in.

Red. It surrounded her boot. It was all over the floor.

Like a pool.

A pool of red.

She looked forward. There was a white blotch in the middle of the red. Still and small. Overwhelmed by the brightness surrounding it.

Barbara.

She stepped back out into the hallway and closed the door. She then stood staring at the lettering blinking. She couldn't even make out the numbers.

She reached for the knob. It was cold against her hand. Or maybe it was her hand that was cold.

Barbara.

She kneeled down beside the body. She could feel the blood seeping through the material of her pants. It was cold and wet. Thick. Her knees slid a little.

She reached out and touched Barbara's neck.

The skin was warm.

Her skin was warm.

She was alive.

"Uhg," Barbara wheezed, her eyes flying open as her body jerked before closing again her body shaking faintly before stopping.

She jumped back, her hands falling behind her into the blood on the floor causing her to slide and fall onto her side.

Barbara's lips and chin were now covered in blood.

Barbara had coughed up blood.

She lay there for a moment staring at Barbara as she lay in her blood. It was seeping into her jacket now.

The colours clashed. Pink and red.

She turned her head to the side. The phone was lying on the floor a few meters away next to the hallway table.

She began to crawl towards it slowly. Her movements impeded by the liquid coating her hands and knees.

She tracked blood across the apartment.

Red streaks ran across the gray buttons as her fingers shakily pressed the buttons.

"Hello," she said into the receiver. She jerked back. Her voice sounded strange. Hoarse. She'd screamed too much that night.

911, how can I help you?

"Gotham Towers. Apartment 912. There's been an accident," she said softly, looking over towards Barbara's now prone body. What had happened? Why hadn't she wondered that before? "There's lot's of blood," she added. She looked down at her hand. There was lots of blood on her.

A unit has been dispatched. I want you to stay on the line with me. Are you still there? What's your name?

"Helena," she said into the receiver crawling back across the floor, following her previous bloody trail. "I … she's alone … I," Helena pressed the 'talk' button and dropped the phone down.

She took her now bloody pink jacket off. There was some dried blood at the bottom of the sleeves that hadn't come from Barbara.

She draped it over the redhead's body and sat beside her cross-legged looking towards the door.

Part 2

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The next night …

"But why can't I have it for dinner?" the child asked pouting. She looked severely disgruntled standing there looking up at the woman with her little arms folded across her chest.

"Because it's not dinner food," the blonde woman responded, her lips twitching as she looked down at the small figure in front of her though she managed not to smile.

"If I eat it for dinner, it'd be dinner food," the young dark-haired child responded staring up at the blonde.

"No it wouldn't," the blonde woman replied. She was surprised and actually kind of impressed by the little ones childlike logic. And technically she supposed the little girl was right, but that was beside the point.

"Why?" the little one asked defiantly.

"It's not wholesome," the blonde responded. "Dinner foods should have proteins and carbohydrates and other things that are good for your body and help you to grow up and be big and strong," she continued, reaching for the child and smoothing back her rich, almost black hair.

"Strong like you?" the child asked looking up at her. Big, sparkling blue eyes, looking into paler ones that had once thought they'd forgotten how to sparkle but had learned again looking into the eyes of a babe.

"Just like me," the blonde responded smiling and picking the child up as she raised her arms asking to be lifted. "Soon you're going to have to carry me," she continued poking the child in the nose, making her laugh and grab at her finger. "Hey, give that back," she said as the child held her finger in her tiny hands. She actually had a pretty firm hold on it.

"Uh uh," the child said smiling as her mother tried unsuccessfully to pull her finger out of her hand. "I got it. Fair and square," she added. Everything was fair and square with her, even if it wasn't fair and square at all. The blonde was certain the child had just figured out that it was a funny sort of saying that tended to stump people and liked using it.

"Fair and square huh?" the blonde asked thoughtfully.

The child nodded her head.

"Things should be fair and square?" the blonde asked the child, looking very serious.

The child nodded gravely.

"Okay. We'll be fair and square then. If you eat your macaroni you can have a piece of cake for dessert," she said nodding at the girl.

The child nodded, and the blonde tickled her in the stomach, making her laugh and burry her head in the blonde's shoulder as she giggled.

"I love you," the blonde said wrapping the arm she'd been using to tickle the child around her holding her to her tightly.

"I love you too," the child said her words muffled against her mothers shoulder.

"How much?" they asked together smiling as the blond set the child back down onto the floor.

"This much!" they answered together spreading their arms as wide apart as possible.

"Go wash your hands," the blonde said ruffling the little ones hair.

"Hey," the child said raising her hand up to her head and smoothing her hair down. "Watch the hair," she continued still patting it before trotting off towards the bathroom.

Helena wrapped the blanket around her more tightly, bringing it up until it rested just under her nose as she stared through the open bedroom door into the hallway and further still into the living room. She inhaled deeply and sighed, bringing the blanket up to cover her head.

It still smelled like her. The blanket, the pillows, the whole room still smelled like her mother.

A tear rolled down her cheek and she turned her head into the pillow closing her eyes as she breathed in deeply once more.

Part 3

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Three days later …

Barbara blinked rapidly trying to get the three blurry images swaying in front of her to come together to form a nice blurry whole. She was constantly dizzy and confused. Barely cognizant. She'd wake up with this terrible pain in her chest, her skin feeling lumpy and uncomfortable where tubes and I.V's were sticking from her body, but she could never feel it for long. She'd start to feel lightheaded and drift off again.

"Hello?" Barbara managed to get out, closing her eyes. She still hadn't gotten the image to focus and it was making her head hurt looking at the three blobs.

"Ms. Gordon, hello," said a voice Barbara didn't recognize. "You don't know me, my name's Annabeth Green I'm with Children's Services," the voice, Annabeth Green, continued. "I'm truly sorry to be imposing upon you after you've suffered such a great trauma …"

"Annabeth," Barbara said weakly cutting the woman off. "I've only got about five minutes before the fitful morphine sleep kicks in … if that, so if you have a point you better rush to it," Barbara went on swallowing with difficultly. She wanted water, but didn't know where it was if there was any. She didn't want to chance opening her eyes again. Her head was throbbing less than usual at the moment.

"Right," Annabeth said. "Sorry. You … I mean, the hospital said you were in a coma and …you probably haven't been keeping up with the news. That's why I'm here. Um, Selina Kyle was mur … passed away the night that you were … injured."

"Wha…" Barbara said her eyes squeezing more tightly together as her head began to throb again. She tugged at the morphine drip unconsciously. Where was her unconsciousness …no, she couldn't go back to sleep, the babbling blob in front of her was saying something …it was about … Selina … the news report … "Helena," Barbara finally whispered a few moments later. She remembered now that the memory had been prompted. That was why she had been running to the door, why she opened it without looking. She'd thought it was Helena, she'd been worried that the girl had been hurt. Annabeth thought she sounded worried, but it was hard to tell.

"She's okay," Annabeth said quickly seeing the ashen woman jerk her shoulders a bit as if trying to get up. "Please don't do that," she said resting a restraining hand on Barbara's shoulder. A hand she quickly removed when the redhead hissed in pain. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean, you just shouldn't be moving around like …"

"Helena," Barbara said again, blinking at Annabeth. The woman was talking again but she wasn't saying anything. She just wanted to know where Helena was. She had to see if Helena was okay, she'd promised Selina she'd…

"She's in the hallway," Annabeth said seeing Barbara jerk again. "Please. Lay still, I'll go get her. Would you like to see her?"

Barbara simply nodded, stopping her rather ineffective efforts to move. She wasn't sure she could've kept it up for much longer anyway. She was so tired. Always tired and sore and hurting.

"Okay. But before I do that," Annabeth said feeling distinctly uncomfortable. "I need to talk to you about Helena's …"

"I know," Barbara said turning her head to the side. Her mind was clearing a bit; she could focus on the woman now. "I know I've been named her guardian," she said.

"Yes," Annabeth said shifting a bit now that she could feel Barbara's eyes focused on her. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about … before you see Ms. Kyle. You see, with circumstances being what they've become there's been some concern about whether …"

"Stop," Barbara said, weakly lifting up her hand. She may have been a bit slower than normal but she was still quicker than most and even in this state of being she knew where this was going. "I know what you're going to say," she continued coughing softly, her hand falling back down. "I'm twenty-five, barely employed and newly … paralyzed," she went on, the last word coming out chocked. "You don't think I'm fit to take care of her," she continued sounding more than a little bit offended. "But I am. I gave my word to her mother that I'd take care of her and that's exactly what I intend to do," she pressed on her voice firm if a bit raw. "And if you or your superiors have a problem with that then you can just kiss my lower back for all I care," she finished her eyes fluttering shut for a moment, exhausted with the effort of talking, before opening again to look at the woman beside her.

"Lower back?" Annabeth asked, taken back and impressed by the woman's speech.

"It would be a vindicating moment," Barbara wheezed slightly. "I'd like to be able to feel it," she continued, her voice deadpan as she peered at Annabeth. "You can bring her in now."

----------------------------------------------------

Helena walked into the room, quietly closing the door behind her. She stood there staring at it for a moment and then sucked in a deep breath turning around. Barbara was looking at her so she made quite sure not to gasp or clasp her hand to her mouth, or do anything like that. She just walked over by the side of the bed and sat down, like she was used to seeing people as pale as snow with wires and tubes sticking out of every visible patch of skin, while a quartet of I.V's poured into them.

She could almost feel Barbara's blood on her hands again.

"Hey," Barbara said softly. Helena was slumped over in the chair looking like she was trying not to cry.

"Hey," Helena responded looking over at Barbara again even though she didn't want to. "She's dead," Helena said a moment later. It wasn't what she meant to say, or wanted to say. But it's what she said.

"I know," Barbara said, blinking rapidly to contain tears as she looked at the brunette. "I'm sorry Helena," she said reaching out and grasping the young girl's hand weakly.

"They were operating on you. I couldn't watch. I went home, but there was nobody there," Helena said her eyes drifting around the room. She wanted to squeeze Barbara's hand to make sure she was real, that she was really there, but it was so small and weak. She thought she'd break it. She didn't want to do that; it looked like the only thing on the redhead that wasn't broken yet.

Barbara didn't know what to say to that. She was sure that she could've thought of something, helpful, meaningful … something. She was sure of that, but her morphine drip had kicked in again and she was starting to feel lightheaded. She had to concentrate to keep Helena in focus.

"I'll be here," Barbara finally managed to get out as her eyes drifted close. She wasn't sure anymore if that related to what the girl had said, but she figured it was a response good for any occasion.

"Will you?" Helena asked finally looking back over at the redhead.

Her eyes were closed. She looked dead. Helena pushed the chair back suddenly causing the redhead's hand to fall limply onto the side of the bed. She looked dead.

"Barbara?" Helena asked. There was no response. She turned her head to the side and looked at the various monitors over the bed. One was beeping steadily showing wavy lines flowing across it at regular intervals. She looked back to Barbara and saw her bandaged chest rising and falling.

She pushed the chair closer again and rested her elbows on her knees dropping her head into her hands.

She looked at Barbara waiting for her to wake up again.

Part 4

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A week later …

Barbara looked forward, staring straight ahead of her at the small television set attached to the back wall, her jaw clenching and unclenching unconsciously, her nostrils flared slightly as her chest rose and fell in a steady pattern. The screen of the television was black and she could just make out her reflection on the screen and that of the man seated beside her bed.

"Barbara," the man said softly reaching out to place his hand on her arm. His large calloused hands coming to cover the tubes sticking out of her veins and her identification bracelet. "Barbara," he said again sighing worriedly.

Barbara looked over at him finally, a frustrated sigh coming out of her throat as she made eye contact with him. She stared at him for a moment and then looked away once more sighing again.

"You have to talk about this," the man said despite Barbara's obvious irritation. He knew that she wanted to be left alone, but she had been alone and she needed to talk now. "If you don't want to talk to me, I can call a …"

"Don't," Barbara said interrupting him her eyes drifting around the hospital room. "Finish that sentence Dad," she continued. "I don't need to see a shrink. I'm fine."

"You're not fine," Commissioner Gordon said looking at his daughter's tense features and hard expression. He'd never seen her like this before. The only time her features softened at all since waking from her coma had been when Helena was around, but Barbara always became morose and withdrawn again when the brunette had to leave in the evenings to go back to the group home. "You've gone through an extreme trauma and …"

"And what? Talking about it is going to magically fix my spinal cord?" she asked turning towards him sharply. "There's nothing wrong with me that talking is going to fix," she continued her voice harsh as she glared at him. "You can save the weepy, motivational speeches for the press conferences, cause I don't wanna hear it."

"Barbara," Commission Gordon said in a warning fatherly tone. He sounded like she had come home three hours after curfew. "Look at me."

"Go away," Barbara whispered turning her head as far away from him as she could. It hurt her to look at him.

"No," he told her simply. His hand still covered hers. The doctors had warned him about this. That after the initial shock wore off, and the second and third and fourth and twentieth consultation had been made and yielded the same response, that the anger would come. Especially, the doctor had said looking down at the chart that held Barbara's medical history noting ankle sprains from over ambitious vaults and cracked collarbones from falls from the high bar, for someone like your daughter.

"Suit yourself," Barbara muttered blinking back tears. She turned her head to look up towards the ceiling. She was sick and fucking tired of ceilings. She closed her eyes. It was easier to pretend he wasn't there, that nothing was there, when she couldn't see anything. When all of her was still and dark, what wasn't happening below her waist didn't seem as jarring and odd. It was almost like being whole again. At least for a moment.

Part 5

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Three Weeks Later …

Barbara slowly moved the spoon around the mug stirring the liquid languidly and then lifted the spoon and tapping it on the edge of the mug before resting it on the saucer. Sensing a presence beside her she leaned back away from the table her elbows had been resting on allowing a plate of food to be place in front of her.

"Thank you," she said softly, briefly glancing up at the young waitress as she stood back up. The girl smiled at her softly and then moved around to the other side of the table setting down another plate. She then looked back over at Barbara for a moment, staring at her before she noticed that the redhead's green eyes were focused on her too. She smiled apologetically and quickly walked away.

Barbara sighed and poked at her eggs with her fork. She was getting tired of that. People looking at her all the time. She was news, at least for the moment. The police Commissioner's daughter gunned down in her own home by a madman that had escaped from police custody. Brilliant, young student and athlete wounded in Gotham's endless struggle against crime. Photos of her had been all over the news for weeks, but it was finally starting to end. People were getting bored and moving on to a new tragedy. But she was recognizable now, at least for the moment, and she was looked at.

It was extremely depressing.

She hated going out.

"Did you finally call the physiotherapist back?" Jim Gordon asked watching as Barbara poked at her food. He wondered if she was going to actually eat any of it. She didn't look like she had been eating much of anything lately.

"Hmmm," Barbara said leaving the food alone for a moment and picking up her mug. "Saw him two days ago," she continued looking up at her father finally. "I told you I'd take care of it."

Commissioner Gordon remained silent for a moment watching as she went back to playing with her food.

"Are you going to actually eat any of that?" he asked.

Barbara looked up at him and rolled her eyes. "What are you my … oh, right," she said smiling briefly before finally putting some food in her mouth and making an 'mmm' sound as she patted her stomach.

"I don't mind if you humour me," Jim said in response. He was pleased to see that smile not matter how brief.

"He's a chipper guy," Barbara said in between bites. She was actually hungry now that she'd started eating. She couldn't remember the last proper meal she'd had. She chose not to think about it. She was getting good at that, ignoring what she wanted to. "It's irritating. Apparently, I'm very lucky," she went on darkly making a face as she spoke. "If I'd gotten to the hospital any later I would've died, he said," she continued. "I'm surprised he didn't break out into some up with people song like 'Come On Get Happy'."

"You are lucky," Jim responded frowning slightly. He didn't like it when she mocked surviving like that. He worried about that mentality. At least she hadn't made a bad joke about dying. It was something at least. "A few more minutes and you would have died."

Barbara looked up at her father at that, considering him for a moment before going back to her food. She wasn't feeling particularly lucky even if she was, and she didn't want to get into it with her father again. Her attitude sucked, she'd been informed. But now it was becoming at bloody, beaten horse between them.

"Where's Helena?" Jim asked sighing slightly knowing Barbara wasn't going to respond to anything along their previous line of conversation.

"With a social worker for the morning," Barbara replied exhaling noisily and clenching her jaw a bit.

"You sound … upset," Jim commented searching for a polite way to describe Barbara's response.

"Things have been a bit difficult," Barbara replied after a long moment, sighing deeply once again. "Helena … she was in shock for the first couple of days, and then emotionally drained for a few more," she continued stopping momentarily to look around the café. "And then … well, she was concentrating on helping me get … somewhere near self-reliant again," she went on picking up her mug, and then quickly putting it back down. It was cold. "But now, for the last little while," another sigh, "the anger and resentment have kicked in with a vengeance. Since I brought her home. She's become somewhat unruly … I wasn't expecting it," Barbara finished rubbing at her eyes tiredly. The truth was that Helena was more than unruly. She had become self-destructive and violent to a degree that was seriously starting to alarm Barbara. She'd known that she would be in store for some behavioral problems, it was to be expected, Helena's mother had died right in front of her after all. But the degree to which the brunette had moved into the dark, worried her. She barely recognized the girl anymore.

Jim opened his mouth to respond, knowing that whatever was going on in Barbara's house was more serious than she was letting on, and thinking not for the first time that his daughter had taken on more than she could handle.

"I know what you're going to say," Barbara said stopping him before he could start. "I'm too young, I'm too emotionally unstable, blah, blah. You're probably right," she admitted. "But it doesn't matter," she went on with more conviction than Jim had heard in her voice since the shooting. "This is how things are."

"You shouldn't have left the hospital so soon," Jim said shaking his head. She was so stubborn. As soon as the doctor's said that it was no longer necessary for her to stay, though they would've liked her to for observation, Barbara had headed to the nurses station signing her release papers while simultaneously on the phone with Children's services arranging for Helena to be brought to her apartment. One of the orderlies had had to stop her as she wheeled out, having spotted a monitor on her that hadn't been taken off.

So stubborn.

"I didn't like it there," Barbara responded shrugging. "Too many people. Besides once the bleeding stopped and the tubes were taken out, there wasn't any more that could be done there than anywhere else," she finished reaching for her mug again, before remembering that it was cold and taking her hand away.

Jim looked at her for a long moment after that. He'd been noticing that Barbara had been becoming increasingly anti-social as time wore on. She'd never been what he would've described as a social butterfly, constantly surrounded by flocks of people. But she was a sociable person, always with a smile and a hand out to help. It broke his heart to see her so small and broken.

"Besides," Barbara pressed on, getting uncomfortable with the silence. She didn't like giving her father too much time to ruminate on one particular subject because then he'd never let it go. "Helena's been … a big help … to me," she continued her face scrunching, almost wincing as she said it, as if she was in pain. She'd found it frustrating, embarrassing and demeaning to need Helena's help sometimes. More times than she cared to admit. Admittedly she hadn't needed the girls help to bathe or go to the washroom, but that was hardly empowering. At least her previous profession had given her the upper body strength needed that she didn't have to be completely dependant on Helena in the beginning. "I should be getting back home Dad," Barbara said finally looking over at him. "The social worker will probably want to talk to me when she gets back with Helena. We'll do it again soon," she said smiling softly, and what she hoped was reassuringly.

She planned on ignoring his calls for the rest of the month.

Part 6

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Two weeks later …

Helena's head dropped down onto the pillow of the plush bed, her arm falling over the side dangling awkwardly. It would've been painful if she'd been feeling anything. There was a slight clattering on the floor. It sounded about a hundred million miles away from her.

Her other arm reached across her body lethargically pawing at the arm that was hanging over the bed until she was able to grasp the shoe lace that was tied around her bicep.

She tugged at it, but it didn't loosen. In fact it tightened a bit.

She sighed at that and let the arm that had been tugging fall across her chest.

It was warm and sunny. She was on a beach tapping a snorkel against her hand impatiently as she leaned against the outside wall of a change room. She was tanned and had white lotion smeared across her nose, though she didn't want to.

"Come on," she whined looking at the door of the stall. "You're gorgeous. Let's go swimming."

"Alright, alright," Selina muttered stepping out of the stall, hopping slightly as her feet touched the hot sand for the first time. Helena laughed and the blonde glared at her daughter. She didn't have to look down anymore, the girl was almost as tall as her and she was only fourteen. She knew she was going to soon have to start looking up at her own child. It made her smile.

"We're gonna miss the sting rays," Helena said grasping her mothers hand and dragging her towards the waters edge. "There might be sharks," she continued turning to look at her mother excitedly. "The tour man guy person said there might be sharks too!"

"And this is a good thing?" Selina asked looking at the teenager dubiously. She'd never really been fan of the water, let alone of sharks. In general she and aquatics didn't get along.

"Not big ones. It's not like we're gonna see Jaws," Helena responded rolling her eyes at her mother as she started tugging her towards the beach again. "Little sharks. Tiger sharks. They only have very little teeth. Could take a finger at most."

"That was reassuring," Selina responded sighing. "They don't actually bite do they?"

"Dunno," Helena responded pulling her mask over her face as they reached the water's edge. "Twy ar zarks," she continued fitting the snorkel into her mouth.

"What?" the blonde woman asked looking over at her daughter. She had to stop herself from laughing. Helena looked adorable in her snorkel gear. She didn't want to put hers on. She didn't think it would look nearly as endearing on a grown woman.

"They are sharks," Helena responded taking the snorkel out of her mouth and dipping it into the salt water before shaking it slightly, before sighing. "You can get a milky drink at the bar and pretend that it's made of fruit when I walk by if you want," she continued seeing her mother looking at the water dubiously.

"Helena," Selina said her voice warning in a motherly way. "They are made of fruit," she continued smiling a bit. They so weren't made of fruit and both of them knew it. Helena was just too quick for her. She shook her head. Sometimes she was literally in awe of the girl. She hadn't known love until she had her child.

"Of course," Helena responded grinning at her mother cheekily. "Don't worry, I'll protect you," she said soothingly wrapping her arm around her mothers shoulder as the blonde pulled the mask down over her face. "Awww," she said looking at her mother for the first time. "So cute," she continued trying to pinch her mother's cheeks.

"Don't forget that I have pictures of you in the bathtub with a rubber ducky that could resurface at any of your future birthday parties," Selina responded forebodingly pointing at Helena who just laughed at her in response and started to wade into the water.

"Come on, I think I see one," the brunette said excitedly starting to swim out.

--------------------------------

Barbara dropped the small metal pick back into the plastic case sitting on her lap and reached behind her stowing it in one of the wheelchair's holding compartments. One bonus to being on wheels was she didn't need to carry a purse anymore. Pushing open the door she wheeled in, clamping down on her frustration as she stretched up somewhat uncomfortably to reach the light switch.

"Helena," Barbara whispered softly, closing her eyes momentarily as she spotted a needle lying on the floor.

Bending over the side of the chair, Barbara wrestled for a few moments before finally grasping the needle precariously between two fingers and carefully lifting up. Placing it on the bedside table, she rubbed her ribs where they'd been pressed up against the arm of the chair and sighed. "Could've saved some for me," she muttered darkly looking over at Helena.

Undoing the shoelace the girl had tied around her arm, Barbara then reached for her other arm and rolled up the brunette's sleeves. There weren't any marks on it. On her other one either except for the one puncture hole.

Barbara sighed somewhat relieved. Between that and the use of the shoelace she was relatively sure Helena was new at this.

Turning her head to the side, Barbara looked over to the desk at the side of the room. More specifically to the phone that was resting on it.

She stared at it for a long moment, and then headed over picking it up.

"Hey Alfred, it's Barbara. Is Bruce around?" she asked trying to sound chipper and failing miserably to her own ears.

"He's away I'm afraid to say," came the older man's reply.

"I see," Barbara responded, any attempt to sound chipper abandoned. Bruce had been away a lot lately. "Could you do me a huge favor?" Barbara pressed on, clamping down on an up swelling of pride that was starting within her. "I need you to bring over some Bat-Off," she went on referring to the chemical compound she had helped Bruce design a few years ago to recover from the effects of being drugged more rapidly than normal. It had some rather nasty after affects, but it was effective, and quite frankly it might do Helena some good to suffer a bit upon returning from Never-Never land.

-------------------------------------------

Barbara rested her head against the back of the chair, her eyes closing to the melodic sounds of Helena puking up everything she had ever eaten into the bathroom toilet. Actually, at the moment she was simply dry heaving having gotten out the contents of her stomach already, but her heaving was rather rhythmic and Barbara was starting to drift off when she heard the bathroom slam shut.

Opening her eyes, the redhead watched as Helena shuffled towards the bed holding her stomach and then flung herself down onto the mattress face first, her body shaking minutely.

"I don't want to talk about it," the brunette mumbled a moment later feeling the redhead's eyes on her. She felt like baboon ass.

"This was your first time?" Barbara asked though it came out sounding more like a statement.

The brunette didn't respond and Barbara knew that she was on the money. If Helena had been using before this, she would've delighted in throwing the fact that Barbara hadn't figured it out in the redhead's face. Despite the cramps she was fighting she probably would've even smiled. Pain was all that seemed to get a reaction out of her.

"This isn't the answer," Barbara went on knowing that Helena was still awake and listening even if the girl chose not to acknowledge her.

Helena sneered into her pillow but didn't respond. It had felt pretty fucking good there for a while. It had felt like her life didn't suck complete ass, and like she was happy. She'd felt like herself for long moments strung together. She'd remembered what it was like to be happy, and safe and believe in the future and dream. She remembered loving. It had felt pretty fucking good.

It didn't feel so good now though. She felt like she had just heaved up all of her internal organs. Her head was pounding, her mouth felt like a cotton factory, her stomach was still quivering like her intestines wanted to escape now, she was sweating but cold, and it felt like her ears were bleeding.

Barbara had failed to mention the use of the Bat-Off to her, leaving her undecided as to whether the after affects were worth the high. She didn't know how people did it unless they were trying to forget something majorly wicked. That little prick she had bought the shit off of by the community center hadn't said anything about feeling like this after. She thought maybe when she was feeling better she'd stomp on his ass.

"If you use again, we're going to have a serious problem," Barbara went on a few minutes later running a hand through her hair. "And I will know if you do," she said seriously. "I get that it makes you feel better … for while," the redhead continued, stopping as Helena snorted derisively at her. "I do," Barbara said when it was clear that Helena was done. "Sometimes I really miss my morphine drip … but Helena, we're on very thin ice here," she pressed on. "It's not just a matter of drugs are bad. Which they are," Barbara emphasized, "but if anyone finds out about this incident, or if you were to do it again …" Barbara paused sighing. "Helena they'll take you away from me," she continued her voice cracking with emotion.

"They can't do that," Helena said looking at Barbara for the first time. She sounded more scared than convinced of what she was saying.

"They can and they would," Barbara replied. "Nobodies very impressed with me at the moment. Apparently my attitude leaves something to be desired. Sufficed to say, nobody thinks that I should be looking after you, and they ARE looking for any reason to take you away. Being a junkie would be a very good reason," Barbara went on gravely. "Hell, I'd hand you over to them myself if that happened. I mean sometimes I'm sure that it's best for you being here … with me … but other times, I think that maybe they're right and I'm not …"

"Don't," Helena said softly, but loud enough for Barbara to stop speaking. She struggled to slip around onto her side so that she could look at the redhead. "Finish that sentence. It's not your fault I'm fucked up," she continued sadly.

"I should be un-fucking you up or something," Barbara responded bunching her eyebrows together as she thought about her sentence. "De-fucking up," she muttered to herself, still looking rather confused.

Helena felt herself actually, genuinely start to laugh at that, but it made her stomach hurt and she stopped before she could get to making audible sounds of amusement.

"First and last," Helena said finally. Barbara had lapsed back into staring at her, apparently having gotten over the semantics of her previous statement. The truth was sometimes Helena felt like the only thing keeping her from going completely fucking bonkers was knowing that Barbara was always just around the corner. It wasn't like she needed the redhead or anything, but she was there. And she got it. Kind of. Other people didn't, but Barbara at least tried. She was kinda terrified of what would happen to her if they did take her away. She knew that she hadn't been quite right since her mothers death, and that … well, she could certainly get herself into more trouble away from Barbara than with her.

"Please, mean that Helena," Barbara said softly, reaching forward and brushing some unruly hair off of the brunette's forehead. "Get some rest."

Part 7

--------

Three weeks later …

"WHY!" Helena yelled angrily kicking at Barbara's coffee table causing it to flip over and sending months old magazines flying in every direction. "Why should I have to fucking go, when you spend all day wheeling around in self pity?" she continued twirling around to face Barbara her finger pointing at the redheaded woman accusingly. "Fuck you, I don't wanna go and you sure as hell can't make me!"

Barbara exhaled loudly staring at the brunette as she then proceeded to fling herself onto the couch and look at her crossly with her arms fold across her chest as she slouched into the cushions.

"I'm sorry," Barbara started slowly. "I didn't mean to make it sound like I was asking for your opinion," she continued wheeling over so that sitting opposite Helena. Her coffee table would've been in-between them if it had still been upright. "Just so we're clear. I wasn't. You ARE going back to school," she finished.

"Why should I have…" Helena started immediately, standing up once more as she glared at Barbara.

"Because I SAID SO!" the redhead yelled at her without waiting for Helena to finish her sentence. She didn't need to wait; the girl had been saying the same thing for almost an hour.

Helena stared at her severely, her breathes coming fast and hard so that she was literally huffing, as her jaw clenched and unclenched and she bounced on her feet lightly. She had discovered that she liked it when this feeling started to come over her. When her mind clouded over with rage making her head feel light and her body tingle. Because at these moments it was all she was. There nothing else in the world but her and hatred and it made everything so clear.

She'd found a new and better crutch, and it was all natural.

Barbara's hand shot up immediately catching Helena's hand around the wrist just before the girls' fist could connect with her eye.

She looked up into Helena's eyes then as the girl stared down at her. They were a darker blue, and seemed to have narrowed somewhat. Barbara squinted a bit, she didn't think they looked quite right, but she couldn't be sure.

Helena jerked her hand, which was held in Barbara's surprisingly firm grip.

The hold on her tightened in response.

Barbara squeezed harder, using her thumb to apply some pressure to Helena's wrist bending it backwards, as she clamped down on the wrist even tighter applying a forward pressure on it.

Helena felt her head clearing as the pain in her arm became more and more clear. She tried to jerk her hand free again, but stopped immediately sucking in a breath as a sharp pain traveled up her arm.

She lifted her foot to kick at Barbara. She didn't think about the fact that she was aiming for legs that wouldn't be able to feel it. She couldn't think.

Barbara bent over in the chair and easily caught Helena's foot before it connected with her leg, dragging the girl down with her as her arm was yanked.

Helena hopped on her right foot uncertainly trying to keep her balance as the pain in her arm grew exponentially because of the movements she was making to remain standing which tugged on the tendons and increased the pressure she was feeling. Not to mention that her left leg was now starting to throb from being held at such an odd angle.

She looked over at Barbara who was simply still staring at her. She tried to glare at her, but ended up blinking rapidly as she tried to hold back tears. She quickly looked away.

And then she felt herself almost floating, gloriously free of restraint and pain until she landed on the floor, her tailbone connecting hard with the tile of the floor, her hands burning painfully as they slapped against the floor.

"I hate you," Helena muttered viciously glaring at Barbara menacingly as she backed up against the couch, though she remained sitting on the floor, her wounded wrist cradled near her body protectively.

"That's fine as long as you hate me from school," Barbara responded before sighing wearily and lifting her hand up to her eyes to rub at them.

Helena had lifted herself up onto the couch by the time the redhead looked back over at her.

Helena sat staring at her for a long moment. Barbara was hunched over and pale. She looked tired down to her bones, and her eyes were unusually watery. She looked down into her lap. She missed her mother. She missed her mother every second of every day. She missed her mother down to the very nuclei of her cells. Sometimes when she thought about her, and how she would never see her again, or hear her laugh, or feel her arms wrap around her again, she thought that she was going to physically die from the pain. Everything got really hot and stuffy and it was like someone was sitting on her chest and she couldn't breath. Sometimes she would close her eyes and just stop trying, but her body always betrayed her and began gasping for breath.

She looked back up and over at Barbara who was still staring at her. She felt so unbearably alone at the moment. She wanted some sort of contact, with some one, to remind her that she really wasn't, that it wasn't her who had died and she wasn't in some sort of hell. She wanted to be weak and give in and bury her head in Barbara's neck and have someone hold her up for a while cause her own resources were getting kind of shaky. She wanted to feel safe.

She picked up a pillow from the where it was lying by the arm of the couch and threw it at Barbara savagely. Then she curled up in as small a ball as she could and closed her eyes. There was no safe. She'd been padding around in Barbara's blood only meters away from where she lay now only a month before. So what if Barbara was strong and smart, she'd already proved she could die as much as the next person. What was the point? What was the point of feeling safe if it was just an illusion? It'd just hurt even more when the bubble burst.

"You're a hypocrite," Helena muttered at Barbara not looking over at her. She could sense the other woman still sitting there looking at her. She wanted to throw something else at her, but it would've meant she'd have to move, so she settled for thinking about it.

"Am I?" Barbara asked resting her elbows on the pillow that was now resting in her lap. Her reflexes hadn't slowed down any. Not that they would be much good except for keeping a traumatized teenager in line.

"You're allowed to sit around and do nothing but feel sorry for yourself all day long cause you're legs don't fucking work anymore, and my Mom is DEAD and I'm supposed to just go to school and fucking deal with it," Helena answered sniffling. She tried to curl herself tighter but she had no more space to remove. "They look at me too. I might not have a chair but they can see I'm not right either! You're not the only one that got screwed," she finished, her voice barely a whisper.

Barbara didn't respond to her right away. Truthfully she wasn't sure what to say. Helena was right. She was a bit of a hypocrite. She'd been offering her advice and spewing platitudes at her from the first time she'd spoken to Helena in the hospital. She'd been saying the same things to Helena that her father had been saying to her, the same things she had thought were crap and didn't want to hear. Only when she said them to Helena they seemed to be right, to make perfect sense. When it came to Helena. But in her case it was different. Only, as the brunette had pointed out, it really wasn't. Selina wasn't coming back anymore than her legs were. The Joker had royally fucked them both up for life.

"You're right," Barbara said finally. "I'll work on that."

Helena didn't respond.

"Are you hungry?" Barbara asked. She couldn't remember the last time either of them had eaten. She shook her head and snorted derisively wondering not for the first time if Helena was really any better off with her. She may have known her from the time she was ten, but she wasn't exactly family, and she wasn't exactly stable. How could she tell this kid how to get better, when she couldn't even figure out how to do it for herself? 'Physician heal thy self' she thought to herself disdainfully.

"No," Helena muttered. She was hungry though she realized as she answered. The hollow feeling in her stomach was more than loss, but she didn't really care.

"I'll order some pizza," Barbara said heading for the phone. She had a couple other calls to make as well.

"No pineapples," Helena muttered. "And no mushrooms. Or anchovies. Or tomatoes. Or broccoli. Or …"

"Do you wanna order?" Barbara asked looking over at the brunette. She could've sworn she felt a smile on her face, but she was so unused to them she wasn't sure.

"No," Helena said, she was sitting up now, kind of. "I just don't want any pineapples. Or mushrooms. Or …"

"You can order if you want," Barbara told her tossing the phone at her.

"I tried to punch you in the face," Helena replied though she started pushing buttons anyway. Apparently she had come to the conclusion that physical violence lost one their right to make delivery decisions.

"I'm not taking that as personally as I used to," Barbara responded watching as the girl brought the phone up to her ear.

Helena looked at her curiously for a moment, and then seemed to decide she didn't really care. She began to order.

"You could've just said, 'I want pepperoni'," Barbara commented as the phone was tossed back over to her.

Helena shrugged. "I'm gonna be behind."

"I'll help you catch up," Barbara replied simply.

"I should call you Helper B," Helena responded reaching for the remote to the television set. "Helper B, to the rescue," she continued missing as Barbara's previously mild expression fell.

Part 8

---------

A Month Later …

Barbara lifted her hand up to her face and removed her glasses placing them on the desk in front of her. She looked up at a round-faced young man with spiky blonde hair and smiled at him.

"Hamlet's a what?" she asked.

"A jerk and a squirrel pervert," the boy, Jason Crow, responded meeting her gaze.

"Okay," Barbara said nodding at him. "Jerk I can see, but a …" here she paused for a moment. "Squirrel pervert? I don't get that one," she continued causing the class to chuckle.

"He's totally gotta thing for Glenn Close, but she's totally like the guys mother. She's not even like a hot step-mom, she's like totally his mother mother. That makes him a squirrel pervert. It's like that play by that really old Greek guy," Jason responded leaning forward on his desk.

"Oedipus Rex?" Barbara asked.

"That's the one. Where that guy was 'I'm gonna kill you Dad' and killed him. And was then all 'I'm messed in the head and am gonna marry my mom' and married his Mom. And then answered some riddles," the boy responded.

Barbara opened her mouth to respond when a knock came from the door at the left side of the classroom.

"Ms. Gordon," said the school's vice-principle, Mr. McLean, as he stepped just inside the door. "You're needed in the office."

Barbara looked towards the students assembled in front of her. She'd been weary about actually coming out into the real world again, somewhat traumatized by the attention she had gotten in the weeks following the shooting. So much so, that even after her talk with Helena she had delayed calling the school to enquire about the staff position that had been offered to her before she was shot. She just wasn't sure if she could do it, if she wanted to do it. But she'd called because she knew she had to at least try.

She had found out that her position had been filled, but that one of the teachers in the English department was going on maternity leave and she could take over her classes if she wanted, before getting her own permanent assignment at the beginning of the next school year.

She'd commented that that was convenient and accepted the offer immediately, even though she had been secretly counting on them having no place for her, thus allowing her to go on with her moping, and brooding and self-pity. But she was now glad that it hadn't worked out that way now. She discovered that it was the best thing possible for her to have gotten back out and around people. It was good for her, being there, doing something. When she was talking to her classes, or individual students or staff, she felt productive again. Useful. It had done more for her mentally than she had thought possible. Most of the time she now felt almost human.

"I'll cover your class for you," he said seeing her look. Walking over to her, he bent down low so that he could keep what he was going next private. "It's about Ms. Kyle. There's been another incident. She used up her three strikes a long time ago, and usually …well, we understand that she's been through some …it's getting difficult to make excuses for her Barbara. She's not just hurting herself anymore."

"I understand," Barbara said nodding. She'd known, they both had known, that Helena had been steadily working her way towards expulsion since coming back to the school. "I'll talk to her. It's been a very difficult …"

"I know," McLean said shaking his head. He'd heard Barbara's speech before, the redhead was quite good at oratory, but words weren't enough anymore. "But quite frankly, she's violent. And the school just can't have that. No matter what her circumstances may be. It's a matter of the safety of the other students," he continued standing back up. "What are we reading?" he asked in a normal speaking voice.

"Hamlet," Barbara responded backing away from the desk. "Mr. Crow has some interesting opinions on the subject," she continued wheeling toward the door.

-----------------------------------------------------

"You nearly broke his jaw," Barbara said sighing as she looked over at the brunette.

"He should've kept his fucking mouth shut then," Helena replied crumpling her foam water cup in her hand and tossing it to the side.

"Helena, I know you're angry, but you can't do this," Barbara said some frustration coming into her voice. "You can't just go around hurting other people because it makes you feel better."

"Even if they deserve it?" Helena asked.

"It's not for you to decide whether or not someone deserves to eat through a straw for the next month," Barbara replied placing her hand on Helena's knee, drawing the girl's eyes up to hers. That had been one improvement they'd been able to make over the three months Helena had been with her. The brunette no longer reacted violently when she tried to touch her when she was in one of her moods. At least when she – Barbara – tried to touch her. Other people were still putting themselves in mortal danger.

"I can't help it," Helena said sighing and shifting away from Barbara's touch. However, even after the redhead removed her hand, Helena could still feel its warmth burning into her leg. She sighed again frustrated.

"You're going to have to," Barbara said softly. "I'm not going to tell you that I know what you're going through. Because I don't. But I do know something about it, about the anger, and the frustration, and the hate. I know that Helena. I've felt it. I feel it. But you can't let it take you over," she continued shaking her head. "Maybe this is my fault …"

"You didn't kill her," Helena responded as her eyes wondered around the office.

"No, but I … I think I let both of us … wallow too much," Barbara replied. "I know you don't want to hear this, but one day things are going to get better. What you're feeling will, lessen and become manageable though the pain will always be there. But … Helena, I'm running out of favors here … the pity cards are dwindling, and if this happens again they are going to expel you."

"I don't care," Helena replied looking at her hands now. The knuckles of her right hand hurt a little. She hadn't formed a proper a fist and had hit him on the bone. She was surprised her hadn't broken her hand.

"You will, one day," Barbara responded. "Will you at least try?"

"I've been trying, and they keep on being fucking idiots," Helena responded her voice rising angrily.

Barbara knew what that meant. Helena had been having a rough time it since coming back. Before Selina had been killed, the girl had been charming and easy going. She'd been popular. Forward of the girl's basketball team, on the honour roll, and on at least fifteen different pages of the yearbook. She'd been 'that girl', the one that everyone wanted to be with, be, or be friend to. And since coming back, it had been painfully obvious to everyone who had known her that that girl they'd known wasn't the one standing in front of them anymore. She was pitied by the staff, and stared at by the students. It put her on edge, and frustrated her, and in her current state it didn't take much for irritation to turn into blinding rage. One word, or look that Helena interpreted in a less than favorable way and she was on the attack. The truth was some of the people Helena had gotten into fights with had been out of line, but some of them hadn't and Helena didn't seem to be able to differentiate between them, or care that there was difference between someone being out of line and deserving to have the shit beaten out of them. She just wanted to hit people and didn't really care much to consider it past that.

"You need to learn how to control …" Barbara started.

"I am in control!" Helena yelled standing up violently, sending the chair she had been sitting on flying backwards into a cabinet causing it to shake.

Barbara looked at her straining forward. She could never get close enough to Helena's face when the girl got like this to see into her eyes. She could only tell that they tended to look strange when she got extremely upset.

A picture frame falling off of the cabinet brought Barbara's eyes over to it. It was still vibrating a bit. She looked to the spot where the chair had hit and spotted a tiny dent. The chair had to have hit the cabinet extremely hard to do that.

She looked back over at Helena who was balling and un-balling her fists. The secretary had told her that Helena had punched Paul Pounder in the jaw. That hurt, a lot, Barbara knew that for a fact, but Helena was moving her hand with a minimum of discomfort. The teen was strong, and healed fast that was one thing Barbara had been able to discern from the fights she had gotten into. Not for the first time she wondered just much Helena took after her mother.

"Really?" Barbara asked finally looking over at the teen. Helena avoided her eyes.

"Helena," Barbara said. "Helena," she repeated until the girl looked at her. "If I offer to show you some anger management techniques will you let me?"

"What do you mean, breathing Zen shit?" Helena asked distastefully. She didn't want to fucking learn how to breathe.

"In part," Barbara responded. "But also other avenues to relieve frustration. I'm talking about martial techniques."

"You wanna show me how to do kung fu?" Helena asked incredulously. "You knew kung fu?"

"I know," Barbara said, clamping down on her urge to take Helena's use of the past tense too personally. She was still dealing with her own sensitivity. "And not kung fu per say, but something like it."

"Wouldn't that make me more dangerous?" Helena asked somewhat snidely.

"Yes, but it'd teach you control. This is the real world, not the Matrix. To learn takes time and practice, and time and practice require patience and control. If you can learn those, then even with the new skills you'll have you'll be less dangerous than you are now," Barbara replied.

"I always wanted to learn kung fu," Helena responded thoughtfully, picking up her chair and sitting back down. "Mom wouldn't let me. She said that people who knew how to fight do."

"That's only a problem if they choose the wrong battles," Barbara replied. At one time she would've scoffed at the idea of Selina Kyle giving moral advice out, she may have to the woman's face once or twice, before she'd gotten to know the woman, or at least the person Selina had come to be before her death.

Helena stared at her for a moment. There were aspects of Barbara's personality that made her wonder. She still hadn't been able to figure out how a schoolteacher in a wheelchair had been able to beat her up. Though she figured with the redhead knowing kung fu that might explain it. Still, with that question answered, she had to wonder why the fuck Barbara knew kung fu in the first place.

"Okay," Helena said finally. "Let's do it."

Part 9

--------

Two Months Later …

"Hey," Barbara said swiping at Helena's hand as the brunette's pinky finger swept through her almost spherical blob of ice-cream. "You've already got twice as much as me," she continued smiling playfully as Helena lifted her pinky to her mouth and licked the ice cream she'd stolen off.

"Mine's a different flavor," Helena said simply looking over at Barbara, a faint smile playing on her lips. The redhead had been in an increasingly better mood since she'd started working at the school, and it was rubbing off on her. A little bit. That and the training was actually helping with the aggression problems. A bit. "I wanted to taste yours."

"You know what else would've worked?" Barbara asked conversationally as they continued along the park pathway. "Asking," she continued oblivious to Helena's extended gaze.

"Asking?" Helena asked a bit dumbly as she watched Barbara lick at her ice cream. She was going fast now, like she was scared Helena was going to steal the rest of it. Helena smiled anticipating the inevitable brain freeze that would follow.

"Yeah," Barbara replied looking over at her. "You know, sentences in the form of a question. For example, 'Barbara could I taste your ice cream?' would be asking. Or maybe it could've gone like this, 'Oh glorious one, I apologize profusely and will later offer to sacrifice live stock to make up for my transgression, but over looking my inadequacies, do you think that it might be possible for me to perhaps taste of your treat?'" Barbara went on. "Something like that."

"Taste of your treat?" Helena asked. "Maybe," she conceded, "but to me that sounds more like asking for some sweet loving," she added winking at Barbara. "Actually, now that you mention it …"

"I wouldn't mind a taste," came a low grumbling voice from off to their side.

Barbara stopped suddenly causing Helena to almost bump into her. She reached under the arms of her chair, her fingers touching the cool aluminum of her escrima sticks. She'd been proficient with them and a number of other combat weapons as Batgirl, but after the shooting she'd devoted a lot of time to becoming an expert with them. It was the most efficient type of weapon for someone in her position.

She saw Helena tense beside her as three men came from out of the shadows near a clump of trees.

"Fucktards don't know who they're messing with," she heard the brunette mutter tersely her eyes trained on the approaching men.

"No they don't," Barbara said whipping her sticks out from both sides, a small smile appearing on her face.

However, before the men came within striking distance, a shadow swooped overhead and one of the men went flying, and then another, the third skidding to a stop by Helena's feet and the wheels of Barbara's chair.

"Batman," Barbara said looking up. Her eyes narrowed a bit as she spoke. He looked like he was getting ready to leave.

"Barbara," Batman said turning around and taking a step towards them.

"Batman?" Helena asked looking over at Barbara slightly wide-eyed. "You know the Batman?" she asked looking over at him.

"Batman," Batman responded looking at the brunette.

"What?" she asked leaning forward slightly.

"No 'the'," Batman responded turning his attention away from the girl towards Barbara once more. He could tell that she was staring at him. She always did have the most intense eyes; he used to be able to feel them on him from rooftops away. "Who is she?" he asked his eyes flickering over to Helena who was watching him closely now, assessingly he thought.

"Helena," Barbara responded drawing Bruce's eyes back over to her. "Helena Kyle."

"Kyle?" He asked curiously. Barbara had to admire how he managed to keep any hint of emotion out of his voice as he spoke, even though his stance shifting, and his eyes rapidly blinking gave him away.

"She's Selina's daughter," Barbara answered. "She's staying with me."

"Daughter?" He asked not quite able to keep the surprise out of his voice this time. He looked at the girl, trying to determine her age. He had never been particularly good at deciphering the ages of young people, but he knew that she couldn't have been any older than sixteen. It was how much younger than that that concerned him. He would check her birth certificate, he decided. And then continued to look at her curiously.

Barbara watched him, knowing what he was thinking. She had the same reaction when she'd learned about Helena. She'd never actually fought Catwoman, Selina had moved to Paris to have and for a number of years raise her child before Barbara had become Batgirl, but she had had access to the Bat Computer and it's file of criminal minds. She'd studied all of them, Selina 'Catwoman' Kyle's among them. So, when she'd seen the blonde at Gotham Library she'd recognized her immediately. Of course, she wasn't able to go running over screaming 'Catwoman' at the top of her lungs so she'd merely kept a subtle eye on the woman as she'd gone about carrying out her reading group.

Sufficed to say, she'd been more than a little surprised when Selina Kyle had then walked over to the group of assembled children after the reading was finished and ruffled the hair of a bright eyed little brunette. She'd taken the smiling child's hand in hers, telling her to come on because they had to find her a baby-sitter. At that, without thinking, without doing much other than reacting, Barbara had been on her feet and standing beside Selina. She'd introduced herself and then offered her services in the babysitting department. She supposed she had been looking for information; an inside track on Catwoman maybe when she'd made the offer. And that's what she'd gotten; only it hadn't been what she was bargaining on. Selina had looked down at Helena when Barbara had made her offer, and Helena had looked up at Barbara staring at her very seriously for a moment before looking back over at her mother saying "she'll do". Selina had laughed heartily at that and then looked over at Barbara warning her that Helena could be a bit rambunctious. Barbara had responded that she was a policeman's daughter, she knew rambunctious.

Later that night, she'd found herself in the Kyle penthouse. A place she'd ended up spending more than a few evenings over the next three years until Helena turned fourteen and deemed herself old enough to stay home alone. They hadn't seen much of each other after that. During those years however, though she hadn't found out much about Catwoman, but she'd learned a lot about Selina Kyle the mother and the unexpected had happened, she came to respect a criminal … a former criminal at least. They'd come to respect each other and Selina had entrusted her with the most important thing in her life. Her daughter.

"You knew my mother?" Helena asked breaking Barbara and Bruce a like out of their musings.

"We met," Bruce responded still carefully looking at the girl.

"Good," Helena said meeting his gaze. "Is he dead?"

"Who?" Bruce asked slightly thrown by the question and the intensity with which it was asked. He could see Selina in this girl, and also something else.

"The fucker that killed my mother," Helena responded. "Did you find him? Have you killed him right back yet?"

"Helena," Barbara said warningly. She wasn't particularly surprised by the girl's question, but that didn't mean she was going to let it slide. Helena and talk about killing didn't sit right with her.

"No," Helena said testily looking over at Barbara before turning to stare at Batman again. "It's his fault anyway, isn't it?" she accused looking over at him. "If he hadn't let that green haired psycho get away from him in the first place, you'd still have your legs and my mother would still be alive," she continued stepping toward the masked man. "They said on the news," she went on, her lip curling with distaste. "They said the knife that killed her had the Joker's logo on it," she went on still advancing on him.

Bruce's jaw clenched at the girls words. Not because he was offended by them, but because he believed them to be true himself. He would take her anger because he deserved it. He should've seen the Joker to his cell in Arkham, he should have made sure he was locked away and the key was tossed. But he hadn't, and Barbara had been shot and Selina had been killed. It was his fault. It was all his fault.

"I have to go," he said finally, looking at Barbara. His voice was rough, too rough. Barbara didn't like the sound of it.

"Batman," she said. But it was too late; he'd vanished into the darkness. She turned to face Helena who stood, back ramrod straight, staring into the darkness Bruce had vanished into. She reminded Barbara a little of him at that moment, so still yet full of fire.

"He's a coward," Helena said decisively turning away from the darkness to face Barbara.

"It takes more courage not to kill," Barbara replied softly.

Helena snorted derisively at that, her lip curling up slightly. "His courage killed my mother and is letting her killer walk free," she responded, her nostrils flaring slightly. "Fuck him."

"Helena," Barbara started to say reaching for the girl, but she stepped out of her reach.

"No lectures," Helena ground out spinning on her heel. She started back towards the park exit.

Barbara sighed and turned around, catching up to her once Helena slowed her pace upon realizing that Barbara wasn't going to try and talk to her, at least at the moment. And together they headed home in silence.

Part Ten

-----------

Two days Later …

Helena's left hand rested against the frame of the window as she stood before it staring out at the Gotham skyline as darkness descended upon it. Half of her face was covered in shadow, the other stark and rigid against the black. She stood still, too still. There was an unnaturalness to it. She was forcing herself not to move. She didn't even want to blink.

Barbara could feel the energy rolling off of the brunette in waves. Traveling towards her, causing the air to crackle with energy.

Barbara stared at her, captivated. She had so much power and passion that it was almost overwhelming. Not only for Helena herself but also for everyone around her. Helena was the type of person that drew you into her world, not the other way around.

Barbara had felt that kind of intense, crushing energy only once before. It was more focused, less random and fragile in that case, but was of the same character nonetheless. She'd felt it from Bruce, and not for the first time since returning home from the park two nights ago, Barbara wondered to herself.

She'd dug out Helena's birth certificate after the brunette had gone to sleep. Thinking maybe she'd made a mistake in the math, but staring at it in the pale light of her bedroom she realized that she hadn't. At least not according to the paper in front of her. Helena, it said, had been born in Paris on September 1st. Twelve months after Selina Kyle had left Gotham.

But still, Barbara couldn't let go of the idea that had begun to form in her mind after seeing Bruce and Helena beside each other. It had begun to germinate and grow, constantly occupying her thoughts.

"Helena!" Barbara yelled a moment later, having been jarred out of her thoughts by a loud crash.

She looked across the room to see the brunette holding a lamp in her hands by its base as she swung it repeatedly at the wall in front of her. The shade had contorted and compressed, bending back, and Barbara's voice was almost overshadowed by the sound of the bulb shattering into tiny pieces as it connected with the wall.

"Helena!" Barbara yelled again approaching the brunette.

This time Helena seemed to hear her, and stopped her movements. The lamp hanging over her shoulder ready to be struck down against the wall against, her shoulders rising and falling with her rapid breathes.

Helena turned her head so that she could see Barbara out the corner of her eye. Her chest hurt and her eyes burned. Her mind covered in a cloudy, red haze. She closed her eyes, trying to steady her breathing, but stopped seconds later, her jaw clenching and her nostrils flaring as the rage washed over her again.

She brought the lamp down again. And again. And again. She could see his cowled face where she struck the wall with it. She could see her mother's cold, bloody body where she struck it. She could see the back of a trench coated figured, and brought it down on that too trying to crush the memories out of her. And then when the metal, had bent and twisted and would bow to her fury no longer, she twirled around hurling it into the room behind her carelessly.

Barbara watched the almost graceful arc of the lamp as it flew across the room, clattering to a stop, half on the floor of the living room and half on the couch.

Barbara turned back around to face the brunette, a deeply unhappy sigh escaping from her throat as she focused her eyes on Helena.

Helena turned away from her. Her heart rate was decreasing, and her mind clearing. She knew what she had done, and was ashamed now. Barbara was giving her that look. That disapproving, disappointed, disillusioned and disbelieving look that she always got on her face when Helena lost her temper like that. The redhead would stare at her, shaming her silently, judging her. The look disgraced and angered her, and she was torn between wanting to apologize and make Barbara's eyes warm and heartening again and wanting to move a few steps to the left, pick up the wooden chair that sat there and hit something else with it.

She looked down at her feet shaking slightly.

"You still feel like hitting something?" Barbara asked having seen Helena's sideways glance and the violent shivers the brunette was just barely controlling.

"I always feel like hitting something," Helena responded, her voice bitter with honesty.

"That's why we have the training room," Barbara responded coming closer to Helena now. She reached for the brunette's hand taking it into hers softly. "I set it up so that you could…"

"It's not the same," Helena said interrupting Barbara. Her eyes fluttered closed momentarily at Barbara's touch, and then opened again so that she could look at the redhead. Her thumb stroked over Barbara's hand. She didn't feel like hitting anything at that moment. She felt calm, and warm.

"The same as what?" Barbara asked softly, taking her hand out of Helena's to brush a strand of hair off of her face now that the brunette seemed to be calming a bit.

"As breaking something," Helena replied, her tone frustrated and uneasy once more. When Barbara had broken her hold she had taken the calm away with her warmth. "Hearing it shatter, feeling it bend and fracture," she continued her voice rising in pitch. "It's not hitting something, it's destroying it," she finished gesturing emphatically, her voice rising shrilly with fervor before dropping off leaving the room in silence.

"You're burning up," Barbara said seriously, looking over at Helena once she had calmed down a bit once more. She felt like she spent half of her time waiting for Helena to calm down and the other half watching her key up. "You keep this up and the only thing you'll be destroying is yourself," she went on. "You're being indulgent, Helena," she said her voice rising sharply having seen the brunette roll her eyes at her previous statement. "Anger can be a part of you, but it shouldn't be you. It's becoming you Helena, and that should worry you. It sure as hell worries me."

"I'll fucking buy you a new lamp, you don't need to go metaphysical on me," Helena responded looking away from Barbara. That look was there again only there was something more to it. Barbara didn't just look disappointed or upset. She looked scared.

"Helena you cannot afford to be out of control!" Barbara replied sharply drawing the brunette's eyes over to her. "I know you're hurt, and you have every right to be. Hurt, angry, resentful. Whatever your feeling you're entitled to it, but this," Barbara said waving at the shattered pieces of glass and plastic on the floor. "Has got to end. You can't just walk around throwing temper tantrums whenever you want because it makes you feel better!"

"Why not?" Helena asked contemptuously.

"Because you've got something special and terrible inside of you," Barbara responded, her tone less confrontational now. Helena didn't respond well to negative tones. "Power," she said softly though her voice carried a resonance that made it sound louder, made it seem to take up the room. "And with that comes responsibility whether you want it or not. You have the ability to hurt, and break and destroy. You have the capacity to do to others what has been done to you. It is NOT a potential that you want to realize," Barbara continued seeing Helena shift under the weight of her gaze and her words. "I …" she started again, but stopped when she realized she didn't know what to say. She saw the potential for greatness in this girl, but also a capacity for darkness. It was the latter promise that she didn't quite know how to deal with. She knew anger, and passion, and power, but the mechanism to control it, and focus her talents towards positive ends had never been something she had to work for. She leaned towards the light naturally and only walked in the dark to attain her ends. But Helena was different, her immediate response to anything, and sometimes it seemed everything, was violent and raw. Always so emotional and passionate, Helena was, she felt everything so very deeply. She was trying to help Helena control it, but at times like these she felt like she was failing. Failing very miserably. So much anger and she had no place to direct it.

Barbara brought her hand up to her face and rubbed at her eyes tiredly.

Helena stood silently watching as Barbara wrestled with herself internally, her own head ringing with the redhead's previous speech. Barbara was scared. Scared of her. Of her anger, and her temper and what it could do. The concern and understanding Barbara had shown her every time she raged had also been tinged with apprehension and anxiety.

"I wouldn't hurt any …" Helena started to say softly, shuffling uncomfortably on her feet. But she was forced to stop as she realized that she would hurt. She had hurt. And she hadn't been terribly concerned with it beyond her own feelings of vindication and momentary pleasure. She'd provoked fights at schools, knowing she could win them. She'd kicked when the other person was down because she could. She could feel the power coursing through her. It had a heady taste that suited her well.

She sank to the floor sitting cross-legged a meter away from Barbara and didn't say anything else.

"You can control it," Barbara said, her voice soft as she looked at the brunette.

Helena nodded, but didn't speak. She wasn't so sure she could anymore than she had been able to stop herself from breathing. She barely remembered what it was like to walk around without Drop John on her back bathing her in shadow.

Part 11

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Three weeks later…

"Hello?" Barbara said distractedly into the receiver, cradling the phone on her shoulder as she slipped her finger under the flap of the envelope and began to tear the paper. She'd been waiting on this for days.

"I know I taught you to answer a phone better than that," came Jim Gordon's voice.

"Kids," Barbara replied smiling as she slipped a few pieces of paper out of the envelope. "I just got the results," she continued slipping her glasses on. "Thanks again Dad, I can't tell you how grateful I am," she said as she glanced over the medical jargon that covered the page looking for a particular phrase.

"You can try over dinner on Friday," Jim responded in a good-natured tone. Barbara seemed to be getting back to herself, which delighted him immensely. "You're just lucky I've still got some friends in low places," he continued. "I don't suppose you're going to tell me what this is about now," he went on leadingly.

Barbara bent closer to the piece of paper resting on the desk before her, staring at it hard for long moments. It was a perfect genetic match.

"Dad," she said slowly, still staring at the page. "I'm gonna have to call you back," she said her voice picking up speed, touched with an undercurrent of excitement. "Talk to you later, love you, bye," she finished so fast the words almost blurred together as she hung up.

Immediately clicking the phone back on she punched in the number to Wayne manner, as large smile slowly working its way across her face as she her heart pounded in her chest. When she'd called and asked Alfred to get a sample of Bruce's hair for her three weeks before, she hadn't allowed herself to speculate too heavily about what she might find out. She hadn't even been sure if she'd be able to find anything out, since the lab in the Batcave wouldn't have been at her disposal for this particular task and a private lab would've been too expensive. But her father, after releasing series after series of exasperated sighs – she now knew where she had gotten it from – had finally relented to seeing what he could do about getting a paternity test done on the fine pieces of hair she had slipped to him in small plastic baggies one day over lunch.

But now she had the results. It was no longer speculation, Bruce WAS Helena's father. Selina had had Helena's birth certificate altered, or forged completely. She'd probably done it herself. She had after all been the best at what she did, which was lie, cheat and steal.

As the phone rang, Barbara wondered why, in the back of her mind. Why Selina had gone to the trouble of keeping the truth from Bruce? But it was only at the back of her mind. She had a more pressing matter to attend to. She had to …

"Alfred, it's Barbara," she said her words coming out rushed. "I need to talk to Bruce it's extremely important. Is he home?"

"I'm afraid to say Miss," Alfred started sounding strangely rattled. "That he's gone."

"I'll try his cell," Barbara said then. "You don't know if he's in a meeting do you?"

"Miss," Alfred responded rather gravely. "I'm afraid … I didn't make myself clear. Master Bruce is gone … from Gotham. He's left … everything. No forwarding address, no … he's gone Miss Gordon, just gone," he finished.

"He can't be," Barbara said, her brain refusing to process what Alfred just told her. She knew that Bruce had been having a hard time, since the night the docks went up in flames, but to up and leave without a word was something else entirely. "I need to talk to him. Alfred that hair sample you got for me, it confirmed it. Helena's his daughter. I have to get a hold of him. He …"

"He's unreachable," Alfred responded, though his voice wasn't devoid of surprise at hearing what Barbara had just revealed. "I've tried, so has Master Dick, I was actually on my way to contact you when … well," Alfred finished with a sigh.

"Gone?" Barbara asked, staring ahead of her absolutely shell-shocked. "How could he just leave?"

"I don't know Miss Gordon," Alfred responded. "I don't believe he really felt like he had been here for months anyway, not since …the night of your accident and Ms. Kyle's death."

"But …" Barbara started to say. "I see," she continued taking a deep breath to calm her nerves. "I'll …bye," she finished clicking the off button weakly before letting the phone slide out of her hand to clatter noisily onto the desk.

Bruce was gone.

Part 12

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Two Days Later …

Barbara jerked awake blinking rapidly as her heart thumped in her chest. At first she was uncertain what had woken her so suddenly, but then she became aware of it. There was something different about her room. Something was off in the darkness. It was almost as if …

"Helena," she said softly, spotting a figure slumped against her bedroom door.

"Looks like you were having a rough night," Helena said softly looking in Barbara's direction when the redhead spoke. The truth was she was a bit surprised to hear Barbara's voice. She'd been sitting there watching the older woman toss and turn for a good half hour before she herself had faded out a little bit, not quite asleep, but not quite awake either. "Actually, just having a rough time with everything lately," she went on not taking her eyes off of the redhead.

Barbara had been rather preoccupied and upset for the past couple of days.

"It's nothing," Barbara responded quietly. "I've just had a lot on my mind," she continued running a hand through her hair.

"A bad a lot?" Helena asked shifting slightly. She hadn't wanted to move before when Barbara was asleep for fear of waking her up, but her leg had fallen asleep and now that the redhead was awake there was no reason to be uncomfortable anymore.

"A complex a lot," Barbara replied with a sigh.

"Are you sorry you agreed to let me stay with you?" Helena asked shifting again, removing her gaze from Barbara's for the first time since the redhead had awoken. She'd gotten into another fight a couple days before - it hadn't been as bad as the others, she was learning how to control herself when she started to get out of control - and Barbara hadn't even bothered to lecture her, or sigh with frustration. She'd just sent her to her room, and grounded her for the rest of the week. And then she'd been really distant ever since. Helena wondered if Barbara was getting tired of her. She hoped not, she was starting to be able to feel things besides anger and irritation again, good things, and she felt them with, or maybe for Barbara. She didn't want to lose that, or the redhead.

"No," Barbara responded immediately, propping herself up on her elbow. "Never think that," she continued sincerely.

"I'm more trouble than I'm worth," Helena responded looking back over at her nonetheless. "I know it. I just can't help it," she continued weakly turning her head to the side disgraced. "I'm a pain in the ass."

"You're a teenager," Barbara responded. "Being a pain in the ass is part of your job description," she continued smiling slightly glad to see Helena turn her head back towards her though her expression was still so hang dog that it would've made a puppy weep. "Besides, you're my pain in the ass now," she finished hearing Helena give off a small laugh before dropping her head down to face the ground.

"Teenager," Helena muttered a moment later. "Only in age," she added ruefully, looking back up at Barbara. She felt like she had aged over a decade since coming to live with Barbara. Her life before that night seemed like a dream.

"Helena," Barbara said a few moments later, drawing out the brunette's name as she dropped her head back down onto the pillow. "Are you okay?"

"You wanna know why I'm in your room," Helena said smiling to herself. Barbara was so polite most of the time. It was obscenely cute. "I couldn't sleep," she continued before Barbara could reply. "It's calming watching you sleep. Though not really tonight."

"That's touching," Barbara replied, wondering just how many nights Helena had been in her room without her knowledge. It didn't sound like this was the first time the brunette had watched her in slumber. "In a strange sort of way," she added almost to herself though she was sure Helena heard the comment. "Were you planning on staying the night?" she asked raising a playful eyebrow.

"If it's alright with you," Helena responded simply.

Barbara was quiet for a moment after that. She'd kind of been joking. "Well then," she said thoughtfully. "You could at least be comfortable," she continued patting the mattress beside her.

Helena was still for a moment, and then stood up and slowly crossed over to the side of the bed opposite where Barbara was lying, carefully lifting up the other end of the blanket and slipping underneath it.

She lay on her side facing Barbara for a few moments after that. Barbara had looked at her when she lay down and then closed her eyes, though the redhead's lips were curved up ever so slightly alerting Helena to the fact that she was aware of her presence. Of her gaze.

She slid closer to Barbara in increments. Bit by bit, watching for any reaction from the redhead, until she finally lay directly beside her. She slid her arm around Barbara's waist loosely and laid her head on the pillow beside Barbara's so that their faces were only inches apart.

"You should go to sleep, you have school tomorrow," Helena said softly as Barbara opened her eyes and turned to look at her curiously, obviously having not expected Helena to slide so close to her. "I'll keep the complex problems away for the night," she continued smiling as Barbara continued to peer at her, blinking sleepily. It was unbelievably sexy, in a powerfully tender way.

"That's a very … chivalrous sentiment," Barbara replied uncomfortably aware of Helena's presence beside her. "But you have school tomorrow too and should take your own advice."

"That's me, a knight in functional clothing," Helena replied shifting back a bit to place a small space between her and Barbara though she left her arm draped around the redhead's waist. "And, I may have school, but unlike you I don't have to actually be awake for it."

"That is not something you want to be saying to an education professional," Barbara responded. Helena was limp against her, almost boneless in her calm as she spoke with an ease that Barbara hadn't heard from her in quite some time. "You do know that school is much more effective if you are awake right?" she asked. She had been feeling a bit uneasy when she first felt Helena wrap her arm around her, though she couldn't exactly say why. It was obvious that the brunette drew some kind of comfort from the contact, which was something miraculous in itself since Helena hadn't been taking comfort in much of anything since her mother's death. It was a good thing, Barbara supposed, that she could at least give Helena this, no matter how small a consolation it was. Besides, she had to admit to herself as Helena laughed softly, she found the contact somewhat comforting as well.

"Yeah," Helena answered playful, shifting back towards Barbara, closing the distance she had created moments before when she felt the redhead relax. "You know, you should follow my advice or I might be forced to do something crazy like try and lull you to sleep through song," she continued seeing Barbara's eyes begin to droop though the redhead fought to keep them open. "Something from the 'Sounds of Nature' collection perhaps," she continued, her eyes trailing up the smooth, creamy skin to Barbara's neck, to her jaw and then perfectly sculpted cheekbones.

"You're pretty chatty for someone who wants me to go to sleep," Barbara commented as her eyes started to close again. She didn't fight it this time. She was tired, and the heat from Helena's body was seeping into hers acting as a sort of sedative against her stress.

"I'm never chat…" Helena started to respond. She stopped however when she saw that Barbara's eyes were firmly closed and her breathing had slowed and steadied. She had fallen asleep right in Helena's arms.

Helena rested her head down on the pillow, her eyes never leaving Barbara's sleeping face. And thus she remained for the rest of the night.

Part 13

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Three days later …

Helena shoved the small piece of paper into her pocket and began to fiddle with the headphones of her mini-disc player as she started down the hallway, her finger simultaneously and rapidly punching the play button before she realized that she had the machine on hold.

"Whoa!" a deep face said from slightly in front of her and to her left.

"Sorry," she muttered looking up as the techno beats began to blast into her ear. A tall, dark haired man was smiling at her with his hands raised in the universal sign of peace. He was good-looking, with a charmingly goofy expression on his face.

He looked kind of familiar, but she couldn't place him.

She continued down the hallway, not really caring.

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Barbara rolled towards the door shaking her head upon hearing the bell ring figuring that Helena had forgotten the list and her key. She had a cocky grin ready to bestow upon the brunette when she opened the door. However, caution had been tragically etched into her brain, and she looked through the peephole first, jerking back with surprise when she saw who was standing on the other side of the door.

"Hey you," Barbara greeted with a grin as she threw the door open, moving back to give her guest room to come in.

"Hey yourself," Dick responded smiling widely as he stepped into the apartment closing the door behind him. "Radiant as ever," he continued picking up Barbara's hand and placing a soft kiss to it.

"And you," Barbara said waving him into the apartment once she got the use of her hand back. "Charming as ever," she went on heading for the kitchen, looking back at him contemplatively as she did. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"Somehow I don't think that's really what you wanted to ask me," Dick responded lightly, smiling as Barbara looked over at him again.

"If you're so smart …" Barbara replied challengingly letting the sentence hang as she put on a pot of coffee.

"Alfred said you wanted to talk to me about Bruce," Dick responded plopping down on the couch. "He also hinted that you were up to something I might want to look into. Are you being sneaky Barbara?" he asked bending down as something reflective on the floor caught his eyes. He picked up a piece of glass lying by the couch leg and stared at it thoughtfully.

"I thought you'd call," Barbara replied coming to stop by the doorway of the kitchen so that she could see Dick as the coffee brewed. "And since when is sneaky a bad thing? Don't you sneak professionally?"

"I guess I could've. Called that is," he replied placing the small piece of glass on the coffee table in front of him. "But I wanted to see you," he continued looking over at her. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to stay longer after the …"

"Don't worry about it," Barbara said waving off the apology. "When duty calls you must answer," she continued smiling softly. He'd come to see her a few days after she was shot. Had snuck into her room after Helena had left to return to the group home for the night. The visit had been awkward and uncomfortable, so when Dick's communicator had gone off alerting him to some serious trouble in Bludhaven causing him to leave, she had been rather relieved. It didn't feel right to let him apologize for it when she hadn't been wronged.

"From you're previous comment," Dick started realizing that their brief visit in the hospital was a subject Barbara didn't want to talk about, "I take that you are …" he went on before stopping as his foot scrapped against something as he shifted. Bending down again he picked up a jagged piece of plastic that looked like part of a lampshade. "Was it evil?" he asked raising an eyebrow as he rested it on the table beside the piece of glass.

"Clashed with the rest of the décor, that just couldn't be tolerated," Barbara replied before shrugging. "Helena was working off some aggression."

"With your furniture?" Dick asked dubiously.

"It was really more like an appliance," Barbara replied wheeling back into the kitchen. The coffee was done.

"She have long brown hair?" Dick asked as Barbara disappeared. He'd heard that she had some kid living with her, and she'd mentioned this Helena the couple of times they talked over the months, but they hadn't gone into much detail about it, or anything really. "I think I saw her in the hall."

"Yeah, that was her," came Barbara's disembodied voice from the kitchen.

"She shattered a lampshade?" he asked fingering the piece of plastic again thinking that it would have required quite a bit of force. "She didn't look like …"

"Helena's much … just much more than meets the eye," Barbara interrupted with a small smile as she came over to the couch, a small tray on her lap. "Too much of her mother and her father," she continued placing a cup in front of Dick.

"Who is her mother?" Dick asked reaching for the small milk container. "I mean, why is she living with you?"

"Selina Kyle," Barbara replied leaning back, knowing that she was in for an interrogation. "I think that answers your other question."

"Selina 'Catwoman' Kyle?" Dick asked rather incredulously. "She could breed?"

Barbara couldn't help but laugh at that. "She could she did. Rather well. Catwoman or not, she was a very good mother," she replied nonetheless. "Helena was her life after she was born, I suppose they were each others," she continued sighing.

"If you say so," Dick replied somewhat surprised by Barbara's defense of the thief. Barbara had been the one that informed him and Bruce that Selina was back in town before he had left for Bludhaven, but he hadn't known that she'd had enough contact with the woman to make character endorsements. "Well, where's her father?"

"That is the question," Barbara replied frowning deeply. "That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about."

"Whoa!" Dick exclaimed. "I know I made a few comments about the costume, but Catwoman was Bruce's bag," he continued looking at Barbara seriously. "I …"

"I know," Barbara interjected looking at him like he was a special kind of stupid. "That's what I was getting at. Dick," she continued seriously as she looked into her former ally's eyes intensely her complete focus on him causing her to miss the sound of a key in the lock. "Bruce … is Helena's father."

"What?" Helena asked the small bag of groceries falling from her hand as she stared at Barbara. "Oh, I'm sorry, I said WHAT?" she repeated when Barbara simply stared at her, and the man from the hallway turned to look at her.

"Oh my god," Dick breathed out softly, straining forward to get a better look at the teen. Now that he knew, now that he had a reason to look, he could see Bruce in her. She had his eyes, his hair, and his presence.

"I know," Barbara said in response to Dick's stunned utterance.

"What the fuck is going on here?" Helena asked stalking towards the two of them. "Who the hell is Bruce?"

"You haven't told her?" Dick asked turning towards Barbara.

"I was hoping you would've been able to help me find him," Barbara replied somewhat defensively. "I was waiting to hear from you," she finished frowning a bit, though it had become clear to her that Dick had no more of an idea where Bruce had gone than she did.

"Barbara," Helena said her voice rising in frustration. "Who is he?" she asked looking at Dick. " What's going on here? You know who my father is?" she asked the questions coming out in rapid succession, her body tense and anxious.

"You should probably sit down," Barbara breathed out softly motioning Helena towards the couch. "This is gonna take a while."

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Helena was quiet for long moments after Barbara finished speaking, her breaths slow and heavy as she stared past the redhead to the wall behind her, sitting perfectly still. She'd heard the news reports that aired after her mother's death. She'd heard them refer to her mother as 'the woman once accused of being Catwoman'. But she'd been rather out of it at the time, and had dismissed the allegations as tabloid journalism at it's worse afterwards. She knew her mother, and she knew that she wasn't a thief. Only apparently she was. Even if she had given it up after she was born.

"And you were Batgirl," she said finally focusing on Barbara. It explained at lot. Barbara's martial arts and weapons knowledge, as well as her understanding of power and darkness, and her concern over Helena's abuse of her natural talents. How she even knew what Helena's abilities meant. Metahuman, she thought to herself shaking her head. Just like her mother.

"And you were Robin, now Nightwing … my adopted brother," Helena continued slowly looking over towards Dick. "Dick Grayson, the adopted son of my father, Bruce Wayne. Batman," she said, the last word falling from her lips contemptuously. "Who doesn't know I'm his daughter, because Mom tampered with my birth certificate. And who has now disappeared without a trace. Does that about sum it up?" Helena asked looking between Barbara and Dick.

"I don't know, I just found out about all this an hour ago," Dick replied somewhat helplessly turning his attention to Barbara as well.

"Yeah, that about sums it up," Barbara replied wearily, holding Helena's gaze.

Helena stood up slowly, rolling her shoulders once she was on her feet.

"I'm going to lie down," she said monotonously immediately turning to head for her bedroom.

"Helena," Barbara said staring after the girl with concern.

The brunette didn't respond.

"Well," Barbara said once the faint click of Helena's door closing reverberated throughout the silent apartment. "That went well."

"Are you being serious or …" Dick started looking over at her bewildered.

"I actually don't know," Barbara replied staring down into the liquid of her now cold coffee. "She didn't break anything. So maybe that's good."

"Maybe?" Dick said thinking that there should've been no 'maybe'.

"She could be gathering steam to blow off her top later," Barbara admitted staring at the closed door.

"Are you gonna …"

"No," Barbara replied still looking at the door. "She needs time to process what she just learned. Thinking about it I can still hardly believe it, I can't imagine how she's feeling. Whatever her reaction ends up being, she needs time to come to it," she continued sighing.

Dick nodded leaving them in silence for long moments.

"Did Alfred tell you about the trust funds?" Dick asked long, awkward moments later, referring to the accounts Bruce had apparently set up in their names before he left. He winced slightly as the words came out of his mouth. He didn't know what else to say, but it seemed indelicate to be bringing up money at a time like this.

"Hmmm," Barbara replied looking over at him finally. "It's what made me get sneaky."

"What do you mean?" Dick asked watching as Barbara's gaze drifted back towards Helena's bedroom door. She was tense, she wanted to go talk to the girl, her body was practically screaming it, but she restrained herself because it was best for Helena.

"Have you ever heard of the Oracle of Delphi?" Barbara asked her eyes drifting back to Dick's.

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Helena leaned against a bookcase in the corner of the apartment, bathed in shadow. She had silently snuck out of her room about a half-hour before and had been listening to Barbara and Dick talk ever since. She'd been tired of her own voice, of her own thoughts that could answer no questions for her and give her no peace. Barbara was talking about plans for something she called Delphi, which as far as Helena could tell was some sort of super computer that would allow Barbara to solve crimes somehow.

"It's brilliant Babs, really," Dick said drawing Helena out of her thoughts. She focused on them once more. He was smiling, and brought his hands to rest on Barbara's shoulders squeezing them as he smiled down at her. "You got brains that don't quit," he continued causing Barbara to smile and shake her head slightly.

Helena frowned and began to move towards them, momentarily losing track of the conversation.

"…then," Barbara was saying as Helena crept towards them. "I'll transfer the rest of the trust into Helena's name."

"Save it," Helena said drawing their eyes over to her. "I don't want his money. I don't want anything to do with him."

"Helena," Barbara breathed out. She'd been aware of the brunette watching them for quite sometime. "I know you blame Bruce for what happened to your mother, but …"

"You're right," Helena said cutting her off. "I do blame him. For what happened to you too. No 'but'," she continued her eyes traveling up Dick's hands from where they still rested on Barbara's shoulders to his face. She stared at him viciously as she imagined beating his good-looking head in.

"You shouldn't," Barbara said not liking the hard edge on Helena's voice.

"I do," was all Helena said in response, effectively indicating that Barbara should shut it in regards to Bruce Wayne and how she should or shouldn't feel about the man. She continued to stare at Dick the whole time.

Dick stared back at the girl; somewhat surprised by the hostility in her voice when she spoke about Bruce, and the intensity of the gaze she was looking at him with. There was something dark, predatory in the girl. She was making him rather uneasy. He looked at Barbara dubiously, wondering for the first time if it had been a good idea for her to take in Catwoman's daughter, no matter how much the thief had seemed to change over the years.

"Ah," Dick started, trying to ignore Helena's glare and get the conversation towards more comfortable ground. "About Delphi," he continued concentrating on Barbara. "I could stick around for a while, do some leg work if you want when you're getting it set up. Help you get words from the street to input and all that," he finished grinning.

"We've got it covered," Helena cut in before Barbara could respond. She took a step forward closing the distance between the three of them. She was still staring at Dick.

"Hel…" Barbara started surprised by the aggression Helena was directing toward Dick, and by her response.

"Didn't mean to imply that you didn't," Dick replied keeping his tone friendly as stepped back and to the side placing some space between him and Helena and him and Barbara. "It's just that old two heads are better than one thing. I figured that …"

"Three's a crowd," Helena said lowly as she crossed into the space Dick vacated. Barbara had turned around to face him, leaving her back to Helena. The brunette placed her hands on Barbara's shoulder, looking at Dick over the top of the redhead's head. "Don't you have your own city to protect?" she practically sneered at him.

"Helena," Barbara said, her tone warning as she turned to face the brunette, her brows scrunching together with worry. Something had clearly upset Helena, putting her on the defensive, but she had no idea what it was.

"We've been training for months," Helena said looking at Barbara breaking her gaze away from Dick for the first time since announcing her presence. "You knew what I was. Who my parents were. What I could do," she continued staring down at the redhead. "This is what you had in mind isn't it? Why you're setting up Delphi," she went on moving to the side of Barbara's chair. "A … partnership, between you and me," she said softly picking up Barbara's hand. "Brain," she said smiling at the redhead. "And brawn," she continued looking down at herself as her thumb stroked the skin of the back of Barbara's hand.

"I would never assume …" Barbara started, startled by Helena's interferences and her touch. She shivered slightly.

"I know," Helena replied cutting Barbara off once more. "You're not. I'm telling you. Anything he can do," she went on glancing over at Dick. "I can do … better," she finished looking Barbara in the eye.

Barbara blinked at the comment, slightly off-put by something in Helena's tone that she couldn't quite identify. She gently took her hand away from Helena's. "We'll discuss the cape and cowl issues later," she said rather stiffly, before turning her head to look at Dick. Sighing deeply, she then shook her head slightly before speaking. "You," she said addressing Dick, "probably wouldn't have much to by way of gathering words from the street though. They're not talking so much anymore. Crime's been at an all time low in Gotham since the Joker's capture and return to Arkham. They're still your typical muggings, rapes and crimes of passion, but the police have got a handle those. Gotham's more sinister animals seem to be hibernating," she continued. "You'd be better served in Bludhaven."

"Are you sure?" Dick asked somewhat surprised by the dismissal of his offer. Truthfully, he'd been hoping to stick around at least for a little while. He'd missed Barbara.

"Yeah," Barbara said smiling softly. "Though the offer was greatly appreciated," she continued sincerely.

Dick nodded looking over at her and then up slightly. Helena had her hands on Barbara's shoulders again and was smirking at him cockily, like she knew this was how things were going to turn out from the moment he'd made the offer. He found her to be extremely obnoxious. He looked back to Barbara who was still looking at him, her expression mild and her posture relaxed. She didn't seem to even be aware of the fact that the girl was touching her again, almost as if it was a regular occurrence, like she was used to this kids hands being all over her.

He looked back up at Helena. The girl was tall, trim, dark and cloaked in mystery. There was also something, mischievous yet shadowy in her baring and expression that reminded him of her mother. Sensual and dangerous. She was exceptionally attractive and aged beyond her years. If Barbara hadn't mentioned it, he would've pegged her for someone in her twenties, early twenties, but certainly not a seventeen year old.

He thought back over what had transpired in the past half hour, over her hostile reaction and realized that she had emerged from the shadows when he'd placed his hands on Barbara's shoulders, and she had continued to act in an antagonistic way until he had moved away from Barbara. Then moving in to touch the redhead herself. It was almost as if she was protecting her territory … and then marking it.

Dick glanced between the two of them wondering, despite himself, if …

"Don't you have homework?" Barbara asked turning to face Helena. Dick seemed to be deep in thought, and she guessed that he had quite a bit to think about so she'd let him.

"I don't wanna do it," Helena replied almost petulantly, causing Dick to look back at her as she looked at Barbara disgruntled. Gone was dangerous temptress he had been conversing with moments ago, replaced with a militant teenager. "It's been an exciting day," she added seeming to think it would help her cause.

Barbara stared at her for a moment, and then in a perfectly reasonable tone responded, "All the more reason to do something normal then."

Dick shook his head at this exchange wondering what the hell he had been thinking before.

"Another pearl of wisdom," Helena muttered smiling, as Dick mentally kicked himself in the ass for thinking that Barbara would … "Where are you hiding those fortune cookies?" Helena continued.

"Go," Barbara said making a shooing motion. "I'm tired of the other teachers thinking I run a lax household."

"You do run a lax household," Helena responded backing away nonetheless so that Barbara couldn't swat her in the stomach.

"No need for everyone to know about it," Barbara replied easily. "Go on," she said.

"Fine," Helena replied, bowing sarcastically before turning around. "Call me for feeding time. And don't be skimpy break out the good troughs. We have a guest," she continued as she headed towards her room, twirling around on the way, to gaze at Barbara before winking confidently at Dick. Then she was gone.

"Good troughs?" Dick asked a moment later, silently thrown by Helena's parting glance. Maybe he'd been right about Helena protecting her territory, though her territory didn't know it had been claimed.

"We run a classy shift here at Chez Gordon," Barbara replied smirking. "Come on you can tell me all about your rousing adventure's while we wait for the Chinese to get here."

--------------------------------------------------

Dick watched the dark liquid in his glass swirl around as he tipped the glass from side to side lazily, before turning his gaze upwards and out over the city. They were on Barbara's balcony, and a nice breeze was blowing through the city. The air was nice and crisp. He wouldn't have minded standing on a rooftop somewhere looking down, but the view was pretty good from where he was too, and the company was much better.

"I gotta say Babs," he started carefully, tilting his head to the side to look at her. "This Helena kid," he continued, "she's a bit … rough isn't she?"

"Rough?" Barbara asked quirking an eyebrow at him. It was dark out of the balcony but the light provided enough that they could still quite comfortably see each other.

"I was trying to be diplomatic," Dick replied smiling a bit. "She seems pretty aggressive. You know, I get a serious anger issues vibe from her, and the whole smashes lamps for fun and skulks around in dark corners thing …creepy," he continued looking back over at Barbara. "The whole 'Helena like pain'," he went on, adopting a bad Frankenstein impersonation, "thing doesn't sit to well with me."

"You didn't see her at her most charming," Barbara replied after a moment, her voice slow and careful. "I'm not gonna say that the … belligerence you witnessed tonight is …is a rare occurrence," she went on delicately. "But she's getting better with the anger …just better, in general. She just … she watched her mother die right in front of her, only to find me lying in a pool of my own blood near death hours later. It's been a rough couple of months," she continued defensively on Helena's behalf.

"I know that," Dick responded. "I know what it's like to lose family," he continued softly, his eyes focused on the city in front of them.

"I didn't mean to suggest …" Barbara began wincing slightly.

"I know," Dick said cutting her off. "And I know that I had my own disciplinary problems when I went to live with Bruce, and what it's like to be angry and feel alone, and all of that angsty …shit," he went on. "But I just got this feeling from her, this feeling …" he said pausing, searching for words and coming up short.

Barbara sighed softly, her gaze drifting around the balcony before returning to Dick. "I think I know what you mean. But there's more to her than just negative energy," Barbara went on. "I've known her since she was ten Dick. And she's changed since Selina's death, in some ways a lot and in others … not that much. She's not a bad kid, she's just confused and hurt, and more than a little angry, but …" she sighed again. "She's also strong, and smart, and quick, and sensitive, and caring. She can be unbelievably gentle, and kind and considerate. She just needs something constant, and true that'll be there for her and believe in her to smooth the jagged pieces into a whole again. That's me Dick. I know it's hard to see beneath all of the fury on her surface, but she's special. I truly believe that," she finished bringing her glass up to her lips and looking back out over the city.

"Okay," Dick breathed out, somewhat surprised by the conviction in Barbara's voice. "So you like her then?" he asked looking over at Barbara smirking. She smiled back and shook her head. "So you're going to train her? To look after Gotham with you?"

"I've been training her, hoping to help her gain some control," Barbara replied. "And the thought may have passed through my mind once or twice once I got the idea for Delphi," she admitted. "But it isn't something I was going to … direct her towards," she went on. "But she wants to, and I have to admit I'm leaning heavily towards agreeing to it," she continued. "I think Helena has the potential to be a great superhero. One day maybe even a match for her father."

"Whew," Dick whistled. "High compliment coming from you," he continued looking over at her profile as she stared straight ahead. "This girls really gotten to you, hasn't she?" he asked.

Barbara continued to stare forward for a moment, considering Dick's question and how to answer it. "I guess so," Barbara replied laughing softly. "I can't really explain it, but yeah. It's like …" she started before trailing off, feeling a bit silly for thinking what she was thinking and not even knowing where it came from to begin with.

"What?" he asked smiling a bit.

"I don't know, have you ever just met someone, or been somewhere, and just known, even though you couldn't possibly that it was just suppose to happen. That you would've met this person, or come to this place or whatever it might be, no matter what? Like life has certain unavoidable intersections and you were at one of them?" she asked looking down at her feet.

"When I stepped into Wayne Manor and looked up to see Bruce standing in front of me," Dick replied immediately. "I'd been anxious before, and I was after, but for a split second when I looked up at him everything seemed to be exactly as it should be."

"I can't pin point an exact moment, or even think of a single example right now," Barbara said softly. "But that's how it is with Helena. I mean I just feel like we're tied together … somehow. Like we always have been … will be. Like doing those readings at the library, and babysitting her, and listening to Selina and agreeing to be her guardian, telling that child services lady while hopped up on morphine and barely conscious that she could kiss my lower back, just … everything was …"

"Fate," Dick said softly, somewhat surprised to hear this coming from Barbara. She was always so logical, and rational, she'd even chosen to turn myth into hard science for her new codename.

"Yeah, except I don't believe in fate," Barbara replied smiling a bit before looking confused. "I don't know why I'm so attached to her. I mean before we went through all of this in the last few months. Nobody thought I should be looking after her, I wasn't sure if I should be looking after her, I just couldn't not," she went on shrugging. "The idea of not …" she started again only to trail off helplessly.

"She's lucky to have you," Dick said softly looking back over at Barbara.

Barbara shrugged in a non-committal way and glanced over at Dick looking at him for a moment.

"I like your hair cut," she said smiling at him playfully. She wanted to change the subject, to change the mood. It had been an unbelievably serious day, and before that few weeks. She wanted to relax. She may have leaned towards the more staid, but Dick was generally a rather cheerful guy and she knew it wouldn't take much to get him onto a lighter subject.

"What's wrong with my hair cut?" he asked bringing his hand up to his head and feeling his hair.

"It's very modern," Barbara replied smiling wider as Dick played with his hair. He was so easy sometimes. "Low maintenance."

"What do you mean 'low maintenance'?" he asked suspiciously.

"Well, you wake up with it looking like that don't you?" Barbara asked laughing looking rather pleased with herself.

"Quiet or I'll break your good lamp," Dick said looking behind them into the living room at the remaining lamp of what was once a pair.

"Suit yourself," Barbara replied easily. "Hardly anything in there costs over twenty dollars anymore," she continued rolling her eyes. "The coffee table looks wood, but it's actually wood patterned plastic."

"Classy," Dick commented whistling. "Somebody's moving on up."

Part 14

---------

A Month Later …

Helena carefully lifted the covers to Barbara's bed and slipped underneath. The redhead hardly ever woke up when she would show up anymore. She wasn't surprised. She had after all spent more than a few nights watching Barbara sleep before she'd been invited into the bed, and she knew that the redhead slept better with her lying beside her. She did what she had promised that first night, she kept Barbara's nightmares and worries away, and Barbara did the same for her. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Just, it seemed, like everything else in their lives. Not only did they keep each other together emotionally but they were partners in crime, or crime-fighting more accurately. They were like different halves of a whole.

She slipped her arms around Barbara's waist, smiling to herself as the redhead instinctually turned into her embrace. Barbara fit into her arms perfectly.

Helena inhaled deeply taking in Barbara's unique scent mixed in with the smooth, musky aroma of the redhead's bath gel.

She bent her head towards Barbara's innocently placing a soft kiss on the corner of her jaw, though perhaps her lips lingered a moment longer than necessary.

Barbara moaned softly and leaned further into Helena, tightening her own arms around the brunette's waist, her lips brushing against the skin of Helena's neck. Helena heard her name whispered from those lips as they buried into her.

She began to kiss along Barbara's jaw towards her mouth, hesitating for only a moment before brushing her lips against the soft, red of Barbara's, her hand instinctually trailing up the side of the redhead's body until it brushed the side of her breast.

Barbara moaned again lightly, opening her mouth to Helena's allowing the brunette to deepen the kiss, her lips moving with the brunette's in concert as Helena moved her hand to cup Barbara's breast, squeezing lightly, as she kissed the redhead with an increasing passion that Barbara met.

Barbara's body shivered as a thread of pleasure ran through her. She'd never had a dream this vivid before. That felt this real. That felt this good. She could literally feel a thumb grazing over her nipple as a warm body pressed against her, and wet lips attacked hers hungrily. It felt …

Barbara jerked back, her eyes opening suddenly staring beside her unseeing for a moment, as she willed her heartbeat to slow. There was somebody there with her. It hadn't been a dream. Someone was in her bed. Oh god, why couldn't she remember what she was doing before she went to sleep? Who the hell could've been in her bed? Why was her heart still beating so fast? What was going on …

"Are you okay?" Helena asked softly sliding towards Barbara seeing the slightly bewildered look on the redhead's face.

"Helena?" Barbara asked her voice rising and cracking as she realized that it was the brunette who had been touching her. Who had been … oh god! What the hell was going on? Why was Helena …

"Yeah," Helena responded reaching out for Barbara, placing her hand on the redhead's hip. "Come back over here," the brunette said her voice playfully seductive.

"What?" Barbara responded. Helena's voice sounded funny, it was lower, huskier than normal. She sounded like she was … oh god! "No!" Barbara exclaimed grasping onto the headboard and pulling herself up to lean against it, further away from Helena.

"You didn't seem to mind a minute ago," Helena replied, her tone somewhat subdued as she observed Barbara. The redhead was pulling away from her. She was doing more than that. She was freaking out. Helena didn't understand. Barbara had clearly been enjoying what they were doing before as much as she had.

"I didn't realize," Barbara started. "I was asleep, Helena," she said looking over at the girl her tone and expression sympathetic. "I don't … this can't happen," she said seriously, drawing the blanket up over herself for emphasis.

"Why?" Helena asked. She could still feel Barbara's body against hers, taste the redhead's lips, and hear her soft sounds floating around in her head. Barbara had let her sleep with her, and hold her. And had chosen her to be her partner in her fight against crime in Gotham. Barbara had said that Helena was hers, which conversely had to mean that Barbara was Helena's. They complimented each other. Barbara felt safe with her, and she felt safe with Barbara. They should be together, in every way. That's how it was when two people cared about each other. And Barbara had kissed her back. There was no reason it shouldn't happen. "I care about you … more than anything," Helena continued softly, her voice cracking with emotion. "And you're so beautiful, I …"

"Helena," Barbara said firmly cutting the girl off. The brunette looked like she'd been slapped across the face. Barbara wanted to reach out to her, but under the circumstances didn't think it would be such a good idea. "You're seventeen," she said beseechingly.

"So?" Helena asked leadingly as if trying to get Barbara to get to the point, not realizing that was it. If she was old enough to be trained to fight mobsters and murders, she was old enough to make love to Barbara. Besides, she was only seventeen biologically. Inside she was older than that, positively ancient. She'd done a lot of living in a short period of time. Barbara knew that, it's why she had chosen her over Dick. She knew that Helena was ready. That she could …

"Helena, you're a minor. I'm not. I'm your guardian, you can't … I certainly can't … WE can't, this is … bad," Barbara said looking over at her imploringly. "I mean …oh god!" Barbara moaned again rubbing at her eyes. She couldn't believe this was happening. How was this happening? She should've seen this coming, she realized suddenly. Oh god! She was so incredibly dense sometimes. She didn't understand how her I.Q could be so very, very high and she could be so incredibly stupid. The way Helena had acted around Dick, the way she fussed about her, and looked at her, and … held her. She realized that Helena had a crush on her. That Helena had a crush on her for quite some time now, and she had been completely oblivious to it. She'd written off Helena's behavior with Dick as Helena reacting badly to the news she had been given, and as a reaction someone new encroaching in on what had become their own little world. And everything else, the not so casual touches, the gentle looks, she had chalked up to Helena finally being able to trust her. To Helena wanting to trust again. She thought that the girl was finally starting to really be comfortable with her. That maybe the healing process had started. And, Helena had always been in a much more tolerable mood the day after the nights she'd spend with Barbara, and she herself had found the contact comforting in a way, but …oh god!

Helena watched as Barbara slipped into herself, her eyes clouding over and moving around, thinking. Barbara looked panicked and sympathetic and more than a little overwhelmed.

Helena stared at her, slowly realizing that she'd been wrong. She wasn't really Barbara's, and Barbara certainly wasn't hers. They weren't halves of the same whole. They weren't partners or any of the other things she had allowed herself to gradually believe they were. It had been a creation of her imagination. Barbara thought she was a kid. She was just being nice to her, telling her she was special, and letting her hold her at night thinking she was helping the redhead in some way. Barbara felt sorry for her, was trying to comfort her. She was nothing but a fucked up kid that Barbara had taken in and now felt responsible for.

She slipped off and out of the bed, quickly heading for the door, blinking rapidly trying to contain unexpected, and uncertainly unwanted tears as her fists balled up with anger at the fact that she had tears to contain. This was such shit! Emotions were such fucking shit! She'd felt, and she'd been wrong, and she'd made an idiot of herself and … and her heart hurt.

"Helena," Barbara said feeling the shift on the bed, turning her head to watch the girl head towards the door.

Helena stopped only for a moment. Just long enough to mutter, "I'm sorry," she started softly. "I shouldn't have. I …it won't happen again," she continued her voice rising slight, solidifying. " I promise," she finished sounding almost conversational. And then she was out the door.

Barbara watched her leave, completely and utterly lost.

-------------------------------------------------

Barbara slowly rolled across the room in the pale, early morning light. The television was on and she could just make out Helena's feet sticking over the arm of the couch. She was watching some old Kung Fu movie Barbara was too un-cool to recognize.

"What're you watching?" Barbara asked keeping her voice light though the question was asked carefully.

"Big Trouble in Little China," Helena responded dully. "Lo Pan," she added a moment later feeling Barbara's eyes still on her and preferring the sound of her voice to silence. "He's the baddest ass evil warlord that ever did stomp on people's asses. Good movie," she finished her eyes never leaving the screen.

"Sounds like," Barbara responded settling herself near the end of the couch where Helena's head rested. "You should get ready for school," she continued placing her hand on Helena's shoulder.

Helena jerked away from the touch, sitting up and flicking the television off. She then stood and tossed the remote onto the couch behind her. Without a word, or a glance toward Barbara she turned and headed for her room, closing the door softly behind her.

Barbara watched her go silently, her eyes closing when Helena's door shut as she chewed on her bottom lip.

Months of progress had been obliterated over night.

She wished that she could've had the use of her legs back for just five minutes so that she could have promptly and efficiently kicked her own ass.

Part 15

----------

Three weeks later …

"Well, isn't this a … big, empty room," Helena commented dryly as she stepped into the apartment, her shoes clicking noisily on the floor as she crossed the tile, looking around. She couldn't be sure, but it looked about the same size as the apartment they were currently living in. She didn't see what had Barbara so excited.

"Come over here," Barbara said drawing Helena's attention towards her from where the girl was wiping dust off of a ledge and making a face. "You haven't seen the best part yet," she continued her voice threaded with excitement. "It should be over here somewhere."

Helena walked over and looked at her expectantly.

Barbara slid her hand along the wall for a moment, feeling for the indentation and then smiled, maneuvering her chair so that she could grasp the edge of the wooden trim and began to pull, straining for a few moments before the wall began to move back slowly, squeaking as it went.

Barbara felt Helena come up behind her and grasp the edge above her hands, helping her pull. The brunette was very careful to make sure that their bodies never touched. The door still opened slowly and noisily, but much more easily with Helena's help. She was so strong.

Barbara wheeled inside the opening, taking out a flashlight.

"What do you think?" Barbara asked a second later as Helena followed her in.

"I think we're in another big, empty room … only this time, there's maybe some asbestos," Helena replied deprecatingly as Barbara flashed the light around stopping as they moved further into the room, and light flooded into it from above. "Is that …" Helena started looking up. There was a large circular shaped window near the roof of the space, but it was more than that, it had large metal …

"The clock?" Barbara asked smiling. "Yeah. We're in the clock tower," she exclaimed happily barely restraining herself from rubbing her hands together with glee. "This is where Delphi is gonna live."

"I know there's a sliding door and everything, but this doesn't seem very secret," Helena commented moving around the open space of the loft. It was still extremely dim inside the space, but she could see perfectly. She could hear Barbara moving around more carefully behind her. She thought about going back to guide the redhead around since she could see her way with no trouble, but decided against it. Barbara didn't need her, and she wasn't notoriously concerned with making the redhead more comfortable at the moment.

"It's actually more secret than it seems," Barbara replied, directing her voice towards where she could hear the brunette's foot steps. "Two plans were drawn up for the building, but the one that was used wasn't the one filed with the city. This space wasn't supposed to exist, so they put that wall up to cover the insertion. Officially this room, this space doesn't exist. Nobody knows about it except the original contractors," she continued. She'd been searching for weeks upon weeks to find a space suitable for them to work out of, but also accessible enough for her to be realistic base of operations. "There's an upper level too," Barbara went on. "With elevator access, though it's been out of order since it was installed. Gotta love government run construction jobs," she continued shaking her head.

"It's cool," Helena said making her way back over to Barbara. She could've been commenting on the weather for all the excitement that was in her voice. "I like the balcony."

"It'll look like more once everything's set up. Far less cave-like," Barbara said looking over at Helena's shadowed figure. She was disappointed with Helena's lack of a reaction. She didn't know why, but she'd hoped that actively showing Helena the plans for their future, would've garnered some kind of emotion. Some kind of genuine response from her, but she got the girls now painfully familiar sarcastic apathy routine.

"You know I was serious when what's his face was here," Helena commented looking over at Barbara, feeling the redhead's eyes on her. She hated that she could feel them, that she was still so aware of Barbara's every action. "I'm gonna do this," she continued looking around the room again. Barbara had talked about Delphi since Dick had left, but she hadn't said for certain that she planned on training and working with Helena. They had continued with their previous training routine, which Helena had at first assumed to be an acceptance of her offer. She knew not to assume anymore, that if she didn't hear it, it wasn't worth shit, and that even if she did hear it sometimes it was still crap. It didn't really matter anyway, she knew she was going to do it and Barbara would go along because she had no choice in the matter. She could train Helena, or she could leave her to her own devices. She didn't think that the latter was at all likely to happen.

"Why?" Barbara asked looking over at Helena. She'd wanted to talk about it Helena over the past few weeks, but Helena hadn't wanted to talk, at least not to her and she wondered if the girl had even remembered making the offer. If she had been serious or if she was just spreading her feathers to impress Barbara in front of Dick. "Why do you want to?"

Helena looked over at her sharply at the question, staring at Barbara for a moment trying to determine how to take the question. It was her instinct to be instantaneously rubbed the wrong way, when Barbara did anything, or said anything that could be taken as bossy, maternal, or condescending. It was her instinct to turn a question into more. But turning little things into more was what had gotten her into trouble in the first place. So, like the others times she had been put in a situation like this over the past few weeks, she stiffened her posture, tightened her jaw and remained silent.

"It's a standard issue question," Barbara continued seeing Helena tense and feeling the girl's eyes on her as the silence became awkward. "You're father asked me, and Dick and Carolyn and everyone else," she went on, trying to pacify Helena. The brunette had been responding to expressions of authority especially peevishly since the night in her bedroom, as if she resented Barbara telling her what to do, or insinuating that she was less than capable of making decisions completely independent of outside help. She didn't want to be treated like a kid. "It's a job of heart, not simply skill. Motivations are important," she finished still looking over at the girl.

"I want you to respect me," Helena replied almost immediately, biting her lip the moment the words came out of her mouth but not able to stop them. That wasn't what she had meant to say, what she had wanted to say. And she didn't like the idea that it was what she was feeling. She didn't want to want anything from Barbara, or anyone else anymore. She didn't want to want. It was useless, and illusion that always eventually dissipated leaving you more alone than you were before it came to you. Wanting led to pain, because you could never really have. When it came down to it, a person was all they had. They were an entire world unto themselves. She didn't want Barbara's respect. She only needed to respect herself, and prove that she could do it to herself, and nobody else, because she was it. She planned on being it.

"I do respect you," Barbara replied seriously, not quite sure what to make of the response or the fact that Helena refused to look at her after making it.

"Why do I want to?" Helena repeated a moment later, walking away from Barbara, but remaining in the redhead's vicinity, circling around her as she spoke. "I wa … so I can stop someone else from having to lose someone they love."

Barbara nodded quietly, listening carefully to Helena's voice, searching to verify what the girl was saying. Her tone was quiet, and a bit hard – like her tone seemed to now permanently be – but it resonated and Barbara believed the statement to be an honest one. It wasn't the fuzzy kind of answer that she had given to Bruce when he had asked her why she had put her suit together and walked out in the Gotham night, but it was hauntingly similar to the answer Bruce had given her when she'd turned the question around on him.

"Okay," Barbara said finally. "You wanna know where everything's gonna go?" she asked pulling out a hand held computer and calling up the floor plans she'd drawn from the original architectural drawings for the building.

"You made a drawing?" Helena asked seeing the artificial light shine up coving Barbara's face in a harsh blue light.

"It's a plan, not a drawing," Barbara responded looking over and slightly behind her at Helena who had stopped pacing, and was watching her somewhat uneasily.

"I bet everything's scaled," Helena replied wryly coming up behind Barbara so that she could see the screen. She made sure to keep a respectable distance between them. Wouldn't want even the suggestion of impropriety, Barbara may have backed up against a wall and pulled her jacket up to her chin.

"Of course," Barbara responded looking up at Helena as if it were foolish to suggest anything else.

"You're so anal," Helena replied, her tone perhaps a bit more cutting than she intended. It came out sounding distinctly less light hearted than had been her intention. Oh well.

"No, I'm prepared," Barbara replied looking back down at the screen.

"How do you spell that again? Oh yeah, a – n – a – l," Helena responded moving around again, it was beginning to bother her standing around doing nothing. She needed to move. She'd needed to move a lot more recently. She wanted to go for a walk, away from Barbara. She turned to look at the redhead.

"The first rule of being a super hero is that you always have to be prepared," Barbara replied, watching Helena begin to pace again. She'd been doing that a lot lately. It was different from when she used to pace before. Momentary bursts of energy those had been, followed by energetic venting before the brunette calmed down and got still. This wasn't like that. It was almost constant, like something was itching Helena under her skin giving her no peace. If they'd been back at the apartment, Barbara knew Helena would've left. Called out that she was going out and left without another word, gone for hours before returning to answer Barbara's questions about where she had been with an irritated 'around' or 'here and there'.

"That's also the first rule of camping. Are we going to have to hang our food from the ceiling too?" Helena asked looking out towards the balcony. "Are there gonna be bears? Evil suit wearing bears with dastardly abstract plans?"

"Keep on talking and your gonna be living in the broom closet," Barbara responded flippantly looking over at Helena hoping for, though not particularly expecting to receive a smile.

"Whatever, Aunt Petunia," Helena replied sarcastically. "I'm gonna check out the balcony."

Part 16

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A Three Months Later …

Helena slowly pulled up the zipper of her Kevlar lined vest, stopping the zipper at the top of the valley of her breasts leaving a pale patch of skin visible. Reaching over to the side, she then picked up her waist length leather jacket and slipped her arms into it tugging it into position once it was on. She raised her arms up and rotated them around, jabbing her arms out in front of her and bending them, testing the material for give. It gave just fine.

Reaching down, her grasped the edges of her leather pants and pulled them together, then grabbing the laces, pulling them tight as she did up the pants. Once they were secured, she then squatted down and jumped up a couple of time, kicking her leg out in front of and behind her, hopping on her booted feet. The pants were fine too.

She looked in the mirror, the reflection that met her staid and dark.

She was dressed completely in black. Her blue eyes the only real focal point on her. She ran a hand through her hair. She'd been planning on cutting it to keep it out of her face but she'd forgotten. No that wasn't true she hadn't forgotten. She just hadn't been able to do it. Her mother had loved her hair long. She reached behind her tying it back into a ponytail.

------------------------------------------

Barbara looked up sensing another presence in the room. She saw Helena crossing the loft towards her. Dark, sleek and predatory. She felt herself smile at the image.

"Where's your mask?" Barbara asked as Helena stopped a meter or so away from her, leaning against the desk to her side.

"Don't have one," Helena replied blasély, looking down at her feet.

"You have to," Barbara started staring at Helena seriously. "It's extremely important that …" but whatever she was about to say was interrupted by a warning bell ringing around the loft and Barbara's screen flashing.

"What is it?" Helena asked moving behind Barbara so she could see the entire screen.

"There's been increasingly strong seismic activity under the city," Barbara responded. "It's getting worse as we speak," she continued her eyes clued on the screen, a small frown coming to her face. "This isn't good. There's going to be an earthquake. A bad one," she said turning her head to look a Helena, surprised to find the girl right behind her. "It's gonna be bad, people could use your help," she finished swallowing as she backed her head away from Helena's a bit.

"Don't I look dressed for the job?" Helena asked smirking slightly as she looked down at herself upon straightening up. "Earthquake," she said heading for the balcony, a thin thread of excitement starting to work it's way through her body. "Hell of a first night."

"Be careful," Barbara said seriously following Helena's presence. "And keep the transceivers on at all times. I want to be able to track you."

"Yes Ma'am," Helena responded looking at Barbara over her shoulder, a mischievous smile working it's way across her face as she looked at the redhead.

And then she turned around, grinning out at the night as she ran out onto the balcony and jumped off.

--------------------------------------------------------

Helena looked down at the arm of her jacket as white fingers desperately grasped at the material, scratching it. She looked up following the arm to an ashen face, and shaking body. She'd just rescued the woman from a crumbling building and deposited her safely on the ground in a secure area. But before she could leave the woman had grabbed her arm.

"Thank you," the woman said desperately, her eyes wide and grateful.

"Your welcome," Helena said, smiling at her softly. Her heart filling with something … something warm, and tingly. She thought she might be feeling proud. It was strange, in a nice way. "Compliments of your friendly, neighbourhood … Huntress," she continued patting the woman's hand and removing it at the same time. Then with one last wink, at the befuddled lady, she jumped up onto a nearby fire escape and disappeared into the night.

Huntress? Barbara asked over the transceivers.

"You always said there was something of a predator in me," Helena replied swinging up onto a rooftop and racing across it, leaping onto another. "Get used to it Oracle, you're gonna be saying it for a while."

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Helena crouched down, nestled in between two large stone statues on the top of city hall looking down at the streets below her, her body perfectly still. There were fires raging in every direction and the sound of sirens going off, police, fire department, ambulances, alarms. All ringing among the shouts of people on the streets, and the screeching of breaks, the shattering of glass.

Looting, arson, car accidents, jumpers, police chases. The city had descended into utter chaos.

Helena closed her eyes, and slowed her breathing, listening carefully for a cry for help, waiting for something to cut through the chaos. She hadn't had to wait for more than a few seconds all night, and this time was no different.

She looked below her, spotting a window washers platform.

She jumped, landing on it, the impact causing one of the cables to snap making the platform tilt downwards on the left side.

Helena quickly shifted her feet to the side, and slid down it, jumping and tucking into a ball when she reached the edge, uncurling herself and landing neatly, taking off towards to the left the moment her feet hit the ground.

------------------------------------------------------

"Where is she?" Helena yelled grabbing the yelling, shaking man by the shoulders and jerking him back and forth roughly, trying to get him to focus. She slapped him. "Where is she?" she asked again as the man blinked at her.

"The fourth floor," he responded looking up at the collapsing building. Helena followed his gaze.

"Which one?" she asked looking at the windows but seeing no sign of life.

"Third from the right," the man said shaking in her hands. Helena was certain she was the only thing holding him up. He was about to get a shock.

She let go of him, not paying attention as he sunk to the ground. She was already half way to the building. The ground around it was cracking, leaving an opening in the pavement meters wide in a circle around the building as it sunk down into the cavernous subway that lay beneath it.

She continued to run jumping over the fissure, smiling as she heard the police officers keeping people away from the death trap yelling at her to stop. She jumped up, grasping onto the window ledge of a second floor apartment, pulling herself up and using it to launch herself up again.

It was just like rock climbing only far, far cooler.

Punching her hand through the window, cursing herself for not wearing gloves, Helena then settled her palms on the window ledge pushing herself up before she started to slam her shoulder into the cracked glass again and again until it gave way and she was able to fling herself inside.

Crying, to the right. Dammit, the roof was caving in. The apartment was full of concrete and dust. She followed the sounds of the cries.

"Hey," she said spotting a little girl in the corner of the apartment, surrounded by falling debris, but free of it. "Up we go," she said grasping the kid in her arms quickly making her way to the front door, stopping when a large chunk of plaster fell in front of her. "New plan," she muttered making her way back to the window.

Looking down, she looked at the kid in her arms and back down dubiously. Then she looked behind her getting a face full of dust as another chunk of the ceiling fell.

"Okay," she said stepping out on the ledge and jumping.

She landed easily, the girl was crying in her ear, loudly, snot dripping onto her jacket. She ran towards the fissure, jumping over it once more, her landing slightly less impressive this time, with the added weight, but steady nonetheless.

She shoved the kid at the now standing man. He grasped his baby and started shaking again.

Helena didn't hear if she thanked him. She was already halfway across the block.

----------------------------------------------------

Helena's hands lay in a large bowl of Epson salts that lay on her lap. Her head was tipped back resting on the back of her chair, her left foot on the floor and her right foot elevated resting on Barbara's lap as the redhead removed her boot silently.

"I can do that," Helena said softly as she drew in a deep breath.

"I know," Barbara replied looking up at her, her expression mild and affectionate. She continued to unlace Helena's boot pulling it off of her foot carefully.

"I don't think you want to do that," Helena commented lifting her head up to look at what Barbara was doing when she felt the redhead reach for her socks.

Barbara looked up at her smiling as she yanked Helena's sock off. She looked down at the brunette's foot and frowned.

"God," she muttered looking at the tattered appendage. The skin had literally been rubbed off in parts, leaving bloody blisters and cuts all over Helena's foot. She reached up and took the bowl of Epson salts off of Helena's lap and put it on the floor, directing the abused foot into the liquid in the bowl. "Take off the other one, I'll be back with more bowls," Barbara said a moment later, backing away.

Helena didn't bother letting her head tip back against the headrest again instead. She was tired. Very tired. She couldn't remember ever being this tired before in her entire life. It was great. She was in pain. Every inch of her body hurt. Her hair hurt. Her fingernails hurt. It was great. She sighed happily, as the nights events raced through her mind, words and expressions of gratitude, desperate sounds turning to grateful ones. She'd saved lives. She'd made a difference in people's lives.

She felt her hand being lifted and placed back into a bowl and sighed. Her other foot was then lifted and given the same treatment as her right one before being lowered to the ground and placed in another bowl.

"We can't use these for popcorn anymore," Helena commented looking down at the bowls her feet were in.

Barbara smiled and shook her head. "Definitely not. I'm strongly against it actually," she went on, reaching out and brushing sweaty strands of hair out of Helena's face. The brunette had tensed slightly at the first contact of her hand to her face, but then relaxed again. Despite that, Barbara removed her hand as quickly as possible without making it painfully obvious that she had realized she shouldn't have done that.

Barbara sighed and leaned back in her chair observing Helena as she lounged. Even sitting there half-conscious, her hands and feet soaking in plastic bowls, her clothes ripped and covered in soot along with her face, there was something regal about her.

"What?" Helena asked feeling Barbara's eyes on her. She could always feel Barbara's eyes on her. She had kind of accepted the fact that even though she didn't want to, that even though she'd been working to end it, she'd always be aware of Barbara if she were anywhere near her.

"You did well tonight," Barbara said softly, smiling at her gently. "Really well. I'm proud of you," she continued her voice ringing with pride as she looked at the brunette. Helena's performance hadn't been perfect by any means, she'd been overwhelmed at times losing precious time to indecision, and frustrated at other times wasting energy on anger and irritation, and she'd show boated a bit too much. But despite those things, it was an impressive outing on its own merits, not even taking into account that it had been Helena's first time as a dark knight.

She watched as Helena rolled her shoulders slightly, and sniffed wiggling her toes in the bowls.

"How do you feel?" Barbara asked breaking the silence that had descended over the room.

"Good," Helena said, keeping her gaze trained on the ceiling. She felt her heart contract a bit at Barbara's words, but it passed. She knew she had done well. She didn't need the redhead's endorsement. But it was still nice to hear it.

"Looks like it," Barbara commented poking Helena in the ribs, knowing the brunette must have been truly exhausted when she didn't dodge the touch or even groan peevishly in response.

"Good," Helena replied again, a smile working it's way across her face.

"I'm gonna get the first aid kit, take care of those scratches on your hands and face," Barbara said a moment later, watching Helena again for a long moment before backing away and heading towards the washroom.

She really had been amazing.

Part 17

---------

Three Years Later …

Barbara glanced up smiling thankfully at Helena as the brunette wordlessly deposited a large mug of tea in front of her. Cinnamon apple, Barbara thought from the aroma that wafted up to her nose. She inhaled deeply, and sighed as she brought the mug up to her nose. She loved cinnamon apple.

"That's almost indecent," Helena drawled easily watching as Barbara's eyes fluttered shut as the liquid moved down her throat.

"You think everything's practically indecent," Barbara replied giving Helena a sideways look before putting the mug back down on the table.

"That's because in my mind it is," Helena responded easily, sending Barbara a swaggering smile before pushing off of the desk beside her and wandering into the main part of the loft, dropping down onto the sofa. "How're things looking tonight?" she called out few minutes later as she turned on the plasma screen. The couch in the apartment was more comfortable, but the television in the clock tower was way bigger.

"Slow," Barbara responded. "Which should make you happy," she added glancing over at the lounging woman.

"Why would you say that?" Helena asked flipping through the satellite channels, and stopping on porn before Barbara looked over at her disapprovingly. She laughed and changed the channel.

"Because you only ask how things are looking when you don't want to make a sweep," Barbara replied, going back to the monitors. It was true; it was a very slow night in New Gotham. She was sure she could've found something for the brunette to do, but it wasn't necessary.

"That's not true," Helena replied offhandedly. "Sometimes I ask when I feel like hitting people," she continued smirking at Barbara.

"So you're up for a sweep?" Barbara asked leaning against the back of her chair looking across the room at the brunette.

"Actually no," Helena replied looking at her watch and then relaxing against the couch again. "I've got plans."

"Do you actually have plans or are you just going trolling?" Barbara asked, looking away from Helena towards the screens once more. It was nothing important. She had email.

Helena rolled her eyes. "You mean picking up some bitches and spendin' some dime doesn't constitute actual plans?" the brunette asked sarcastically. Just because Barbara lived like a monk, it didn't mean that she had to. At least one of them should have something that resembled a life. Hers may have been one of acquaintances, brief attachments and debauchery, but it was something beyond skulking in the shadows and poking at corpses, which was just fine by her. She was twenty she could afford to make pleasure her profession and pastime.

"So that's a yes to trolling then?" Barbara asked with a sigh, ignoring the sarcasm that coated Helena's response.

"No," Helena replied a little testily. "I told you I've got plans. Bumped into Riana Fox a few days ago," she continued in a more reasonable tone. "We're gonna get reacquainted," she finished smiling, before licking her lips.

"What happened to Dashel?" Barbara asked looking over at Helena knowing exactly what the brunette had meant by 'reacquainted'.

"Who now?" Helena asked looking up and meeting Barbara's gaze. Her brows were drawn together in confusion.

"Your boyfriend," Barbara prompted. "Dashel Kane," she went on when Helena continued to stare at her blankly.

"Boyfriend?" Helena asked skeptically, looking at Barbara suspiciously as if the redhead were trying to pull one over on her. First of all, she didn't do the dating thing, so there were to be no 'insert sex' friends. Secondly, she didn't even know anyone named … "OH! Dash," she said finally, an image of a tall, scraggy blonde coming into her brain. She started to laugh. "What about him again?"

"Aren't you dating him?" Barbara asked her arms crossed now as she looked at the brunette.

"No," Helena replied like it was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard. "Never was. I don't date," she said looking over at Barbara and nodding for emphasis.

"Then why does he keep calling you?" Barbara asked.

"I know you're an information broker, but fuck Barbara," Helena exclaimed impatiently a moment later. "What's it to you? He's a sad, sad, little man. That's why he keeps calling. If you don't like it, change our phone number. I mean it's not like we'd have to go through an extensive list of people to inform. There's Alfred, and your dad, and … well, that's about it."

"I wasn't trying to pry," Barbara said in response a moment later once Helena had calmed down a bit. "It's just that by the time I seem to find out who you're spending your time with, you've already forgotten their existence."

"You don't need to know who I'm spending my time with. I'm a big girl. Besides if you'd met them, you'd know why I forget them all so quickly," Helena replied looking at her watch again.

"I know I don't need to," Barbara responded. "I just like to know what's going on with you, it's… never mind," she continued shaking her head. It was impossible to get anything out of Helena about anything that actually mattered. She was never quite sure if it was because Helena just didn't care enough to share with her anymore, or because Helena just didn't care enough to have anything to share. "If they're all so very boring than why even bother?" she went on tiredly a moment later.

"Passing the time," Helena replied shrugging. "Not everybody can be as wonderful, and intellectually stimulating as you. You've ruined me for the world Barbara," she went on sardonically. "So I pass the time the best I can," she finished more softly, her voice a bit distant. That was a bit too genuine for her liking.

Barbara looked over at her at that. It was a bit cutting even for Helena. She sighed and turned back to the computer screen letting silence descend upon the clock tower.

"Have you eaten anything since lunch?" Helena asked ten minutes later, flicking off the television set and standing up. It was almost seven she needed to get ready.

"No, I'll grab something later," Barbara replied not looking over at her.

Helena stared at her for a moment. Now Barbara was all mad at her. She reached for the phone.

"What're you doing?" Barbara asked looking over at Helena as she heard the brunette making a pick-up order into the phone.

"I'll pick it up before I leave to meet Riana," Helena muttered replacing the phone on the cradle. "Try not to sit there all night, get out on the balcony for a while or something, it'll do wonders for your complexion. Blue-bloods out this century," she continued looking over at Barbara momentarily before heading out of the clock tower and into the apartment.

--------------------------------------------------

Barbara checked her pager again. She still hadn't gotten a response from Helena. She'd been paging the woman for over half an hour, which was an obscenely long time not to respond even for the brunette. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair as her eyes caught something on the bottom of the computer screen.

The main-line alarm system in the apartment was on. She'd turned it off after Helena had left upon delivering her dinner, activating the Delphi alarm system instead which was much more extensive. Helena must have come back and been over in the apartment if the alarm was back on. If she was crashing after a hard dinner of feigning social graces, it would explain why she hadn't answered Barbara's pages.

Closing the door to the clock tower behind her, Barbara wheeled further into the apartment, spotting Helena's jacket lying carelessly in the middle of the foyer. She sighed and shook her head, at least some things never changed.

She turned her head to the side. She thought she heard a noise from the hallway where their bedrooms were.

She started towards it.

Helena's door was open sending a pale light into the dark hallway.

"Helena?" she called out sticking her head inside the woman's bedroom as soon as she reached the door. However, the moment she saw inside she quickly jerked her head back, instinctively moving her chair away from the doorway before stopping and blinking rapidly.

Helena hadn't been alone. She really, really hadn't been alone. She could still hear the bed squeaking and the quiet moans that had been filling the room. And flesh. There had been lots of flesh.

"Barbara?" she heard a voice call, what seemed like hours later, but only could've been seconds. It was Helena.

"Yeah," Barbara said after taking a deep breath. "Something unexpected has come up. You're needed at home," she continued knowing the Helena would recognize the meaning behind her words.

Silence met her words at first, and then she could hear some shuffling in the bedroom, and low voices whispering to each other. Whoever was in there with the brunette didn't seem happy, though Barbara couldn't make out what they were saying. Then there was some more ruffling and silence.

A few minutes later, Barbara then looked up to see a tall, beautiful female form emerge from Helena's doorway. The woman looked over at her. Barbara recognized her.

"Riana," Barbara said, looking at the woman. Obviously dinner had gone well.

"Ms. Gordon," Riana responded glaring at her slightly before heading for the door. Barbara shrugged her shoulders. She guessed she wouldn't be on the Christmas list that year, oh well.

Once she heard the front door click shut, Barbara made her way back to Helena's doorway, stopping again momentarily as she spotted the brunette bent over in front of her dresser wearing nothing but a pair of black lace underwear.

Barbara looked at her for a few seconds longer as Helena rose up with a bra in her hand, her back still to Barbara, and then the redhead turned away, waiting for Helena to signal when she was decent.

"What is it?" Helena asked a moment later turning to see Barbara averting her eyes. She smiled. There was something about embarrassing the redhead that appealed to her in a completely primal way. Maybe it was the flush.

"A robbery on …" Barbara started looking back over at Helena, pausing when she saw that the woman was barely more decent at the moment, then when she'd first come into the room. She had simply put on a matching upper half. Barbara licked her lips and averted her eyes once more. "A robbery on 32nd street," she continued clearing her throat as her eyes traveled back over to Helena. "A pharmaceutical company," she continued focusing her attention on the brunette's feet. "Get dressed and come to the clock tower, I'll brief you fully there," she finished quickly, really wanting to get out of Helena's bedroom rather desperately.

"Sure thing boss," Helena replied, watching Barbara fastidiously as she backed out of the room.

Part 18

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Three Years Later …

"What the …" Barbara exclaimed turning her head around so fast she almost gave herself whiplash as she felt her chair being jerked backwards and turned around. She was being pushed away from the workstation towards the door to the apartment. "What do you think you're doing?" Barbara asked spotting Helena behind her. She slapped the brunette's hands, trying to get them off of her chair.

"Giving you some culture," Helena responded as she slapped back at Barbara's hands playfully before continuing towards the door, moving them both into the apartment.

"I'm in possession of plenty of culture thank you," Barbara muttered rather peevishly.

"Great, that shows you have an appreciation for it," Helena replied moving them into the living room. "And anyone with an appreciation for culture knows that you can never have too much of it," she continued. Barbara could tell she was smiling even though she couldn't see her.

"Why do I get the feeling this is going to be an introduction to low culture," Barbara asked looking at the items assembled on the coffee table. Two bowls of popcorn, two six packs of beer and a bottle of Merlot, little chocolates in a large glass cup, and what looked like spray cheese. "We're not going to watch anything with Adam Sandler or Julia Roberts in it are we?" Barbara asked sounding slightly frightened.

"You're so high maintenance," Helena complained with a smile flouncing down onto the couch. "No Sandler, or Roberts …I may be taking you away from your work, but I don't hate you," she continued smiling over at Barbara charmingly. "We're going to watch the Jackie Chan classic Drunken Master, the original, and you're going to enjoy it. I won't let you deprive yourself of something that kicks as much ass as this movie any longer," she finished handing a bowl of popcorn over to Barbara.

"No," Barbara said holding up her hand as Helena held out the bottle of wine to her. "If we're gonna do this, let's do it right," she said looking at the six packs. "You should've gotten cans, we could have crushed them against our heads and let them fall to the floor where they could leak and ruin my rug," she continued smiling as Helena handed her a beer.

"That's the spirit," Helena encouraged gaping at Barbara as she popped the top with her teeth.

"I did go to university," Barbara replied winking at Helena.

Helena placed her hand over her heart. "You truly are a gem."

---------------------------------------------------------------

"Why's he doing that?" Barbara asked leaning towards the screen her brows drawn together in consternation.

"Did you just ask me to reasonably explain why a character in a Jackie Chan movie behaved the way they did?" Helena asked turning to look at Barbara incredulously, laughing when she saw the redhead's position. Barbara was so sauced it wasn't funny. Oh wait, it was. Very funny. She was a cute drunk.

"Yes," Barbara replied the alcohol apparently clouding her sarcasm detector. She looked over at Helena expectantly.

"Barbara," Helena said gravely shaking her head sadly. "Barbara. It's a Jackie Chan movie," she continued speaking very slowly. "Jackie Chan."

"So?" Barbara asked moving to rest her elbow on the arm of her chair and missing, tipping to the side slightly before she was able to steady herself. She looked around her immediately, suspiciously eying the apartment before sniffing and looking back over at Helena.

"What do you mean so?" Helena asked trying not to laugh at the redhead's previous display. "So that's the answer. Look" she said pointing to the screen. "It's funny. See how many times that guy got hit over the head? It's funny. See how he's in a full body cast! Comedy, Barbara. Comedy gold."

"But…" Barbara started.

"No but," Helena interrupted. " It's funny, that's why it's there. Now let's watch as he eats too much and gets into fight where he's comically bloated."

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Barbara looked over at Helena as the brunette stared at her chest scratching at her shirt with the nail of her thumb trying to remove some chocolate that had fallen on her during the movie. Helena's eyes were narrowed and her tongue was sticking out the corner of her mouth as she concentrated on the task at hand, her brows coming together studiously.

The whole display was extremely precious.

Barbara reached over lazily and pushed Helena in the head causing the brunette to tip over slightly, before sitting up again and looking at Barbara with a disgruntled expression.

"You're drunk," Helena said seriously nodding at Barbara as she stared at the redhead. "You're a surly drunk and … stop pushing me!" Helena exclaimed as Barbara placed her index finger in the middle of Helena's forehead and pushed.

"I'mma a gonna, I'mma gonna kick your ass," Helena muttered a second later rubbing at her forehead as she glared at Barbara who was smiling at her affectionately. "I'm a drunken master," she mumbled quietly under her breath as Barbara looked at her. She wasn't really gonna kick Barbara's ass. She was just talking big.

"You're a drunken idiot," Barbara responded smiling. "I wanna lie down."

Helena looked at her for a second, and then hooked her hands under Barbara's armpits and dragged her out of the chair and over the arm of the couch so that the redhead was lying down, her head resting on Helena's lap.

"I meant in my bed," Barbara said looking up at Helena.

"Shoulda been more specific then," Helena replied unconcerned, her hand coming down to softly brush some hair off of Barbara's face before reaching for the remote.

"Put on something educational," Barbara said still gazing up at Helena. "Find out if there's anything on about sea turtles," she continued brushing at the spot on Helena's shirt the brunette had been trying to get off earlier. "Or surgery."

"On about surgery, or surgery … on?" Helena asked batting Barbara's hand away from her chest, only to have the redhead reach up once more and start scratching at her again. She stopped and let Barbara do whatever she wanted, she'd get bored of it soon enough. "What about turtles?" she asked looking down at Barbara, her hand resting on the redhead's stomach still flipping through the channels.

"Either I guess," Barbara replied still looking up at Helena, her tone somewhat distracted. "Sea turtles. They swim. They have little flippers," she continued her hand coming up to Helena's face, caressing the soft skin there slightly. God, she was beautiful.

'The only thing on that's educational is this show about the erotic properties of body hair," Helena replied staring at the television as some man caressed a fur hat. She looked over at Barbara a moment later. The redhead's fingers were trailing through her hair. "This was a good night wasn't it?" Helena asked looking down at Barbara.

"Good night? Where are you going?" Barbara asked glumly.

"I said, this was a good night. Not good night," Helena replied rolling her eyes. "You should go to bed Barbara. You're out of it," she continued as the redhead continued to gaze at her softly.

"Or you'll have to sing nature sounds to me," Barbara replied, a fuzzy memory coming to her of herself lying with Helena and the brunette whispering that to her. "'Whoosh'," she continued making ocean sounds as she picked Helena's hand off her stomach and held it gently looking at it. "You don't look so strong," she commented, her previous words forgotten. It was true to. She was more muscular than Helena, but the brunette could lift twice as much as her.

"Sure I do, I'm very intimidating," Helena replied flexing. Barbara reached up and felt her muscle. She ran her fingers along Helena's arm before dropping her hand down to her stomach where she let it rest.

"You don't need to intimidate me," Barbara said, her hand rubbing across her stomach lightly as she gazed up at Helena.

Helena smiled down at her, leaning her head down to brush Barbara's forehead with her lips.

"You're going to bed," she said picking up the redhead almost falling over as she did, but managing to stay upright as she deposited Barbara back in her chair.

"Where are you going?" Barbara asked as Helena slowly pushed them towards her bedroom.

"Home," Helena said. "I need to feed my fish."

Part 19

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Six Months Later … Currently …

Helena crouched down on the ledge looking across the street towards the New Gotham Clock Tower. She couldn't see inside of space behind the face of the clock, but she didn't need to. She knew that Barbara was in there, probably sitting in front of a computer screen her lips pursed as her eyes searched the monitor processing obscene amounts of information with ease and grace. And Dinah was probably in the training room, or maybe watching the monitors with Barbara asking endless questions and being aggravatingly endearing. She was sure it was all very quaint. She smirked and shook her head looking down at her hands.

She was holding a rose. One perfectly formed, brilliantly vibrant rose. On her last sweep of the city, she'd come across two men robbing an old lady. She'd managed to dispatch with one of them rather easily, but then the second had to be a jackass about things and run away. That meant she had to chase after him, at one point nearly being hit by a car, only dodging what would have been a very painful collision by knocking into and over a flower cart. She'd caught the man soon after that, and left him unconscious and secured to a light post before starting back for the clock tower. But before she'd found a building to hop onto she'd passed back by the flower cart and found one flower out of all of the ones scattered on the ground that hadn't been broken. It lay there amongst chaos, serene and beautiful. She'd picked it up instinctively and then continued on her way.

She'd planned on going straight back to the clock tower, but as she'd approached the building, she'd gotten apprehensive and anxious and had decided to settle on the building where she was currently perched.

Looking at the flower in her hand, she knew why she had picked it up. She'd been planning on giving it to Barbara even though she hadn't known that when she had reached for it. She shook her head at the notion and then smiled.

She was so fucking in love with Barbara it was almost comical. She'd tried not to be. She'd tried not to be in love with Barbara for seven years, but no matter how hard she tried, no matter how hard she worked to deny it, it was always there. That love. Tying her to the redhead. Tying the redhead to her she also believed. She just couldn't lie to herself anymore, couldn't delude herself anymore. Herself wasn't standing for it. Her head now knew what her heart had for years. She was in love with Barbara Gordon. It was time to break out the harps, because she was finally okay with it, she realized as she stared at that rose. She was in love, and that was okay.

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"What's she doing over there?" Dinah asked curiously her eyes trained on the monitor to Barbara's left. They had Helena's position on GPS and knew that she was sitting on top of the building across the street. Just like she had been for the past hour.

"I don't know," Barbara replied glancing over at the monitor before shrugging.

"Aren't you curious why she's just been sitting over there instead of coming in?" Dinah asked looking over at the redhead. Barbara was usually the suspicious type asking questions about everything. And she was especially attentive when things came to Helena. Dinah didn't understand why she was just shrugging when Helena was behaving so strangely.

"A little," Barbara admitted glancing up at the exit onto the balcony towards Helena's position. "I've gotten used to Helena doing all sorts of things I can't fathom," Barbara continued feeling Dinah's eyes on her. "Maybe she just wanted to be alone for a while."

"Then why wouldn't she go to her apartment, or a coffee shop like a normal person?" Dinah asked. "Who just sits on rooftops for hours?"

"We do," Barbara replied smirking at Dinah. "Besides Helena's something …else. I don't think a coffee shop would do it," she went on smiling as she shook her head before returning her attention to the monitors though a small smile lingered on her lips as she thought about the brunette.

"You know why she's over there," Dinah said accusingly, seeing Barbara's continued smile. She was sure the whole thing was a plot devised by the both of them to drive her insane. Helena's revenge for Dinah borrowing her clothes all the time without asking. They were twisted, she decided. She still loved them though, the sick, twisted bastards.

"I really don't know why she's over there," Barbara replied looking over at Dinah, her tone serious. "Really," she added for emphasis when the blonde looked over at her.

"Then why are you smiling?" Dinah asked suspiciously even though she was relatively sure Barbara was telling the truth.

"It's just funny that she can piss you off and not even be in the same building as you," Barbara replied smirking at the blonde. Watching her and Helena interact really was highly amusing. They were like little kittens that would hiss and scratch at each other over a ball of yarn, and then lick each other tenderly when they got tired or were bored. It was sweet.

"I'm going to bed," Dinah said slightly peevishly looking towards the clock.

"Sleep tight," Barbara called smiling as the blonde glared at the clock the whole way to her room.

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Helena leaned against the doorway that opened onto the balcony from the clock tower, her gaze focused on Barbara as the redhead typed something onto the keyboard in front of her, a slight frown on her face as she stared at the monitor intently.

"Are you gonna come in or stand there all night looking dramatic?" Barbara asked not looking away from the monitor as she addressed Helena.

Helena smiled to herself and walked into the clock tower slightly, her hands behind her back as she sauntered over to the redhead. By the time she reached her and leaned against the desk, Barbara had taken off her glasses and turned away from the computer to face her.

Helena removed her hand from behind her back and lay the rose across Barbara's keyboard wordlessly.

Barbara looked at the rose, and then over at Helena before grasping it carefully between her thumb and forefinger, lifting it in front of her face, turning it so that she could see it at different angles. She reached for her glasses. Helena placed her hand over Barbara's stopping the redhead from picking them up.

"It's just a flower Barbara," she said with a touch of amusement. "Just a flower," she repeated letting go of Barbara's hand.

Barbara removed her hand from over top of the glasses and looked over at Helena curiously. She was wondering why the woman had given her the flower if there was nothing wrong with it.

"It's pretty," Helena said seeing Barbara's look, her smile only growing as she pointed at the flower.

"It's lovely," Barbara agreed, speaking for the first time since Helena had come inside. She raised an eyebrow at Helena obviously still not getting why she was given the pretty flower.

Helena merely looked at her, her eyes twinkling and her lips curled up mischievously.

Barbara leaned back in her chair, and looked at the brunette, staring at her hard for long moments. Helena was playing with her; she knew something that the redhead didn't.

Helena stayed perfectly still allowing Barbara to carry out her visual inspection.

"Done?" Helena asked hearing Barbara sigh and frown at her slightly.

"Yes," Barbara replied though she was still looking at Helena thoughtfully.

"Did you find anything interesting?" Helena asked lightly, shifting her position.

"No," Barbara replied. "Just a whole lot of leather," she continued smiling crookedly. Helena did love that crooked smile.

The brunette pushed off of the desk and slid between it and Barbara leaning forward to rest her hands on the arms of Barbara's chair leaving their face only inches apart.

She smiled at Barbara faintly, her eyes warm with fondness and then she leaned forward brushing her lips against Barbara's softly, sweetly and briefly, pulling back mere seconds later to gaze into Barbara's eyes, smiling at her dotingly once more.

She found the green pools staring at her curiously, a bit dubiously, and with a little confusion. Barbara's brows wrinkled a bit as she looked at Helena and her eyes clouded a bit. She was about to start thinking. Helena didn't want that.

Barbara looked down at her hand as Helena picked it up holding it in hers gently. She followed the brunette's arm up to her shoulders, and her neck and then her face. Helena was looking at her hand intently, and then she moved to cradle it. Helena's hand on the back of Barbara's and she lifted it up, moving it towards her.

Barbara opened her mouth to speak she didn't understand what was going on. Her mind was a bit fuzzy, she just needed a moment to think and she was sure she could've deduced what Helena was up to. But she didn't get a chance to speak.

Helena captured Barbara's lips with hers again, this time making the contact more firm, and passionate. And while she kissed the redhead, deepening the contact when Barbara parted her lips, she brought Barbara's hand up to her breast placing the hand over it, using her own hand which covered Barbara's to push against the flesh, rotating their hands in a caress, as they kissed for long moments.

Barbara moaned softly as she pulled her lips away from Helena, staring at the brunette with wide, dilated eyes. She could feel Helena's breast in her hand, was painfully aware of the warmth and weight of it and how very good it felt. She could feel her heart beating erratically in her chest. Her head felt light. She swallowed.

"What're you doing?" Barbara asked, her voice coming out deeper and rougher than normal.

"What are you doing?" Helena asked softly, her breath hitching slightly as she looked down at her chest. Barbara's hand was squeezing her breast lightly, her thumb brushing over Helena's nipple. Barbara was acting completely on her own, Helena's own hand having returned to the arm of Barbara's chair long before, needing to steady herself during the kiss.

Barbara pulled her hand back immediately as if bitten when she realized what she had been doing. She looked up at Helena who smiled at her.

"I didn't mean for you to stop. I was just being pointed," Helena said softly, her hand reaching for Barbara's again, but this time she didn't bring it back up to her chest. She simply held it, her thumb stroking the soft skin. "Kiss me," Helena said looking back up at Barbara. "You know you want to," she said as she watched the redhead lick her lips for the fourth time since she had pulled away from Helena's mouth.

"Is that what I want?" Barbara asked huskily. She was extremely aware of everything Helena. Of the warmth of her body, of her scent and the way her voice tickled her ears and sent a shiver through her body. She wasn't sure if she meant the question or not.

"It is," Helena replied tenderly but confidently. "So kiss me," she continued softly.

Barbara hesitated, her eyes fluttering shut as Helena's voice rolled through her, making her quiver. They opened again seconds later, focused on Helena's lips. They were pink and wet, pouted slight and parted a bit. Her gaze traveled down the creamy, smooth skin of the brunette's jaw, down to her neck and then further down the neckline of the brunette's shirt, which allowed Barbara to see the tops of her breasts as they rose and fell with Helena's breathing. Her gaze moved down further to a flat stomach encased in black, and gently, seductively curved hips. Then down further to deliciously tapered, long, lean legs, ending with cute feet encased in equally cute boots. Barbara raised her gaze from Helena's feet back to her face, her eyes focusing on her lips again as Helena's tongue poked out and licked at them, before her teeth ensnared her bottom lip as she chewed on it.

Barbara could feel something powerful, overwhelming, and completely alluring welling up inside of her, the intensity of it causing her to inhale sharply. She wanted to do more than kiss Helena. She wanted ravage her. Right then, right that moment. She wanted to grab her and bring her lips to her and kiss them until they were swollen and bruised. She wanted to climb on top of her and kiss every inch of her body as Helena struggled beneath her, moaning, helpless against the passion that Barbara inspired in her. She wanted to …

Barbara moaned pressing forward, her hand tangling itself in Helena's hair as she kissed her. Her lips crashing against the brunette's as their tongues dueled and Helena pressed forward into her, the kiss so hard with desperation and longing that it was teetering on the edge of painful.

Helena raised her left arm from where it rested on the chair and brought it up to Barbara's, trailing it along the arm the redhead was using to grasp her head, as she continued to move her lips against Barbara's. She rubbed the redhead's hand softly, before taking hold of it, guiding it away from the back of her head as she pulled her lips away from Barbara's.

"I'm going to take you into the bedroom," Helena said her voice rough with desire, though there was a bit of a question in her voice. She looked at Barbara who merely nodded her head, before leaning forward and capturing Helena's lips again, sighing as Helena broke away and began to kiss her neck as she lifted Barbara into her arms.

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Helena looked down at Barbara as she ran her hand up the redhead's naked torso, starting at her hip and moving up slowly, until she reached Barbara's breast. She used her hand to cup it and brought her lips down over the redhead's excruciatingly erect nipple, tugging and it and sucking at it, hard and feverishly, her right hand entwined with Barbara's as she pushed the redhead down onto the mattress.

Barbara scraped her nails of her free hand down Helena's back, smiling as the brunette hissed with pleasure and tilted her head back giving Barbara access to her neck, which she took full advantage of, as she brought her hand around from Helena's back to rest on her stomach pushing her back softly, as she kissed and nipped at her neck.

Helena gasped as she felt Barbara's hands stretching hers above her head, pinning them there with her right hand, as the redhead kissed her jaw and down her neck, before moving to her chest, where she kissed all over her breast before finally taking Helena's nipple into her mouth, biting down on it lightly before sucking it into her mouth as she ground herself against Helena's hip bone.

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Helena's eyes closed, and her lips parted and she felt Barbara clench her fingers, pulling them deeper inside of the redhead, as she moved herself along Barbara's thigh, pressing down and rubbing her sex along Barbara's leg as she moved her fingers in and out of the redhead rapidly, her thumb stroking her clit, and pressing against it as she rocked them.

Barbara's hand came up and around Helena's neck, holding the brunette tight as her head tilted back and her body arched up desperately, her fingers moving up into Helena's hair tugging it at first and then holding her head firmly in place as the brunette began to play with her breast, licking and sucking it as the hand that wasn't inside of Barbara made it's way under Barbara's thigh elevating it slight to give herself better leverage as she rode Barbara's leg.

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Barbara's body jerked up violently as her orgasm ripped through her body, her hips twitching and her body shaking as Helena's fingers continued to move within her, drawing out her pleasure as the brunette's lips moved against her own, swallowing her cries of ecstasy as a kaleidoscope of colour danced behind her eyelids and her body surged over and over again.

Helena dropped her head to Barbara's shoulder, her mouth landing in the space between the redhead's neck and shoulders, sucking the skin there as she moaned into Barbara's skin as her hips slapped against the redhead's and she flooded Barbara's leg with her pleasure, her body shivering and shaking as she clutched at Barbara and the redhead wrapped her arms around her holding her tight as she trembled.

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"Oh. My. God, Barbara," Helena breathed out softly as she drew her arms around the redhead, her head still resting on Barbara's shoulder. "I mean … whoa," she continued breathlessly, kissing Barbara's neck as her heart continued to pound her chest.

"I," Barbara started to respond, still slightly out of breath. The erotic haze that had descended upon her at the workstation was starting to clear, and she began to fully realize what had just happened between them. She tilted her head down to look at Helena, her hand coming to rest under the brunette's jaw to draw Helena's face up so that she could see her eyes. "I," she started again but she as she gazed at Helena she couldn't keep her train of thought as flashes flooded her mind, sounds and tastes from the previous hour coming back to her. She lapsed into an increasingly wide, kind of dirty smile. She couldn't help it. It really had been 'whoa' as Helena had so artfully put it.

Helena smiled back, drinking in the redhead's expression before leaning up and kissing her softly, lovingly.

Helena then looked at Barbara for a long moment. She wanted to tell Barbara that she was in love with her, but as she gazed down at the older woman, she could see that Barbara was still a bit overwhelmed by what had happened and was happening between them.

"I'd like to stay," Helena said looking down at the redhead, her hand moving to capture Barbara's as she tangled their fingers together. It said enough about where she was, what she was feeling, for that moment. Barbara knew what she was like, that she was fuck and run kind of gal. Only she hoped this would get across to Barbara that that wasn't going to happen with her.

"Okay," Barbara said softly, tracing her thumb across Helena's cheek, looking at her kind of dazed but also happy. She leaned forward and kissed Helena softly. She didn't want her to go. Ever. She wanted to keep her, right there beside her, pressed up against her forever.

Helena nodded and shifted slightly on the bed, turning them over a bit so that they ended up spooning, her lying behind Barbara with the redhead wrapped securely in her arms. She kissed the back of Barbara's shoulder as they lay there in silence their breathing the only sound in the room.

"Helena," Barbara said long moments later. Her voice was quiet and vulnerable.

"Hmmm," Helena replied tightening the hold she had on Barbara protectively before placing another soft kiss on her shoulder.

"I never expected this," Barbara said softly, her mind racing as she spoke, thinking back over days, months, and years. Searching for some clue, some indication that could have prepared her to understand why what happened tonight had happened. Looking for the birth, or creation of the passion and love that had overwhelmed her and possessed her only moments before. Which still lingered in her heart, causing it to ache softly at the thought of the woman whose arms were wrapped around her holding her. She was looking, searching for a sign of the romantic love she now felt coursing through every inch of her being, and finding nothing but everything that had ever happened between them.

"But?" Helena asked hearing the continuation in Barbara's voice.

"But," Barbara said chuckling softly, shifting in Helena's arms to face her. "That," Barbara continued referring to their lovemaking as she traced Helena's face. "Doesn't just happen," she continued thoughtfully. "It's like … I don't know," she went on a little helplessly. "I can't understand how I never saw it coming, because right now I can't remember not feeling it," she said closing her eyes, as she let the feelings wash over her.

"Feeling what?" Helena asked carefully, not wanting to push Barbara. She didn't want to get kicked out of the bed again.

Barbara looked at Helena seriously for a long moment, then moved forward brushing her lips against Helena's softly and first and then with an increasing passion. She could feel, her heart start to beat faster and her body flush with excitement all over again. She slowed down, her lips no longer crashing against Helena's but brushing them again, slowly and tenderly almost worshipful.

"Oh," Helena said smiling softly when Barbara pulled back from her. "That," she continued smiling wider, leaning forward to kiss Barbara, briefly. "That's a good thing," Helena said softly as she reached up brushing some of Barbara's hair off of her face. "A terrifying and wonderful thing. Aren't emotions fun?"

"You're not surprised by this," Barbara said a moment later looking at Helena contemplatively. "You've already reflected … and are feeling quite pleased with yourself. You knew this was going to happen," she continued, Helena's words from earlier drifting back to her 'kiss me. You know you want to.' And she had wanted to, even though she didn't know it at the time. "That I was, am … that I wanted … want … that," she trailed off blinking rapidly before sighing and looking over at Helena who seemed amused by her consternation.

"I … had an inkling," Helena said softly, carefully.

"And inkling?" Barbara asked. She clearly wanted a more substantial response than that.

"I was … looking for the signs, while you … were looking at everything but them," Helena responded gently, running her hand over Barbara's taking it into hers as she spoke. "It just took me a while to work it all out, and then want to see the answer."

"I'm not following you," Barbara said softly, looking down at their intertwined hands.

"You couldn't let yourself want me, could never admit it consciously, but it was there under the surface, under the propriety and law and conventions that bound us," Helena said thoughtfully. "It confused me at the time, I didn't understand why you pretended like it wasn't there, I thought that you knew, but you had no idea what you were doing even when you were doing it," she continued laughing softly kissing Barbara's shoulder again.

"I still don't …" Barbara started to say, though something was scratching at the back of her brain, pounding in there demanding release.

"You said my name," Helena said softly. "That night in your room. It's why I continued to kiss you, why I didn't understand when you stopped."

"What?" Barbara asked slowly, turning around in Helena's arms so that she could see her.

"You were right of course," Helena said ignoring Barbara's utterance. "Despite what I wanted and what you couldn't want, it would've ended badly. Not that you ever would've let it start," she continued smiling softly.

"I did not want to have sex with you when you were seventeen," Barbara said seriously, shifting in Helena's arms uncomfortably at the implication.

"No," Helena agreed, holding onto the struggling redhead. "Barbara, I know that. But you did want me in a way," she continued rubbing Barbara's arm soothingly as she calmed a bit. "We've always been connected. Not exactly like we are now," she smirked as she looked between them. "I tried to turn it into something it wasn't ready to be back then, not realizing that … it was beautiful as it was."

"I wasn't able to conscious it up," Barbara said softly a moment later, thinking back, breathing in deeply as she did remember a moment, of attraction, of her watching Helena her eyes traveling the plains of the brunette's body before she averted her gaze. Quietly complimenting the brunette's natural beauty in quiet moments in the clock tower. Her eyes closing as others flowed into her mind now that the bridge had been burned.

Helena chuckled at her phrasing, but otherwise left her be for a few moments, seeing that Barbara was deep in thought.

"Why did you let me wait so long?" Barbara asked a second later a little grumpily as she leaned into Helena's hand which was stroking her cheek.

"I had my own denial issues to deal with," Helena said seriously before leaning forward and brushing her lips against Barbara's. "Acknowledging that you are hot and that I wanted your body was not one of them however," she continued smiling against the redhead's lips as Barbara slapped her lightly on the arm. "I guess I was afraid."

"Of what?" Barbara asked brushing some charming disheveled hair out of Helena's face.

"Of love," Helena replied softly. "Of being in love with you and needing you … and then losing you," she continued looking over at the redhead. "But sometime tonight I realized that I already was."

"Was what?" Barbara asked softly.

"In love with you. That whether or not I wanted to feel it, it was there. That I already needed you, and wanted you around in my life. So," Helena answered shrugging.

"You didn't see any reason why we shouldn't have sex," Barbara supplied smiling.

"I was going to put it more delicately than that," Helena replied smiling at her impishly.

"But that about sums it up," Barbara prodded.

Helena shrugged her smile turning lecherous as she raked her eyes over what was exposed of Barbara's body.

"Where do we go from here?" Barbara asked. She'd turned back around in the brunette's arms allowing Helena to draw her body against hers again, delightfully cocooned in Helena's arms.

"Let's worry about that tomorrow," Helena responded kissing Barbara's shoulder.

Part 20

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The Next Morning …

Coffee. Barbara smelt coffee. A smile appeared on her face. She liked coffee. She wondered where it was coming from. She decided to open her eyes.

Helena leaned forward brushing her lips against Barbara's as the redhead's eyes fluttered open, smiling against her lips as Barbara jerked back slightly at the contact before relaxing again, sighing softly as Helena deepened the kiss a bit.

"Coffee," Barbara whispered when Helena pulled away.

The brunette smiled. "I love you too," she murmured sarcastically before leaning to the side and picking up a mug placing it under Barbara's nose.

Barbara reached up behind her grasping the top of the bed frame and pulled herself into an upright position, the blanket sliding down her torso. She looked over at Helena but the woman's eyes were focused on something lower. She looked down to see what had caught Helena's attention when she realized that the brunette was staring at her naked chest. She tried to pull the blanket back up irrationally embarrassed, but couldn't make it move up high enough with Helena sitting on top of it.

"Stop that," Helena said smiling as she glanced away from Barbara's chest briefly to look up at her face. "I like the view," she continued bumping the mug against Barbara's hand forcing the redhead to grasp it. She then leaned forward bracing her hands on both sides of Barbara's waist and kissed her stomach just above where the blanket had pooled at her waist. From there she proceeded to leisurely kiss her way up Barbara's torso, up in between the valley of her breasts before placing a kiss over her heart, and nuzzling her head into Barbara's shoulder, kissing there too.

"I think you like more than the view," Barbara responded softly, reaching to her side to rest the coffee cup down on the night side table. She brought her hand around behind Helena's neck rubbing it soothingly, as Helena smiled against her neck.

They stayed like that for a long moment, before Helena finally shifted slightly moving further onto the bed and lifted her head to look at Barbara. The redhead leaned forward brushing her lips against Helena's, her hand starting to caress the brunette's neck and back more suggestively as Helena's hands found their way to her hips and began to run up and down her sides as their lips continued to meet.

Helena's hand slowly began to slip beneath the blanket, causing Barbara to groan softly, her eyes fluttering shut as the brunette's fingers began to slide along the now slick heat of her …

"Helena!" Dinah called banging on the bedroom door. "Are you in there? Alfred said you were in there? Are you in there?" she yelled.

"Yes! Okay, what do you want?" Helena yelled back peevishly turning her head to the side to look at the door. Her hand was still moving under the blanket and she could hear Barbara's breaths start to become uneven. Dinah had to go away immediately.

"Somebody's grouchy … oh wait it's you," Dinah replied saucily. "I need to talk to you something," she continued. "Can I come in?"

"No," Helena replied immediately, sighing as she felt Barbara's hand move to cover the one she had beneath the blanket slowly sliding it out. "I'll be out in a second, go take your Flintstones chewables or something," she continued sliding off of the bed, noting the delicious flush of Barbara's skin sadly. She wanted to make the skin sweaty too.

"They have all the essential nutrients," she heard Dinah mutter before she wandered away from the door, looking back over at Barbara to see that the redhead had slid the blanket up to her chin.

"I can help you get dressed," Helena offered with a hopeful smile.

Mere minutes later the brunette was in the kitchen fighting over the orange juice container with Dinah.

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"Did you not go home last night?" Dinah asked looking at Helena's wrinkled leathers as the brunette poured some coffee onto her sugar. Helena still had a lot of clothes and various items hanging around the clock tower but they were still in the closet of her old room, Dinah's current room. It was actually very convenient, though Helena didn't seem to want her to borrow any that particular morning.

"What are you my mother?" Helena asked looking over at the blonde smirking slightly. "Maybe I just like wearing these. Maybe they make me feel special," she continued glancing surreptitiously at Barbara who was steeping her tea with an intensity that suggested it held the answers to the mysterious of life. It was incredibly sexy, and Helena couldn't help but wonder how that was possible.

"Or maybe," Dinah said slowly smiling back at Helena. "You got lucky last night and decided to feed yourself before going home and making yourself decent," she continued playfully shaking her head.

"My," Alfred said depositing a plate of pancakes into the middle of the table. "You three do have the most interesting breakfast conversations don't you?" he continued, looking between Helena and Barbara and then over at Dinah.

"The kid just can't keep her mind out of gutter," Helena replied looking at Alfred shaking her head sadly. "We've had to lock out the pay channels. It's sad really," she continued smiling over at Dinah.

"I thought it was Tomb Raider," Dinah muttered blushing before looking away from Helena.

"Womb Raider," Helena laughed cutting into her pancakes looking over at Barbara who glared at her. She sniffed and cleared her throat. "Excellent as always, Alfred," she said straightening in her chair.

Dinah smirked.

"What?" Helena asked looking at her. The kid looked cocky.

"You are so her bitch," Dinah muttered looking at Helena having noticed the look Barbara gave her and how Helena immediately shaped up.

"I'm nobody's bitch," Helena replied immediately glaring at the blonde.

"That's enough I think Dinah," Barbara said smiling cutting in before Helena could say anything else. She glanced over at Helena. "She's right though," Barbara continued smirking crookedly at Helena. "You're totally my bitch."

Helena leaned back in her chair at that, resting her arm along the back of it and stared at Barbara for a moment, her eyes raking over the redhead's body before a small smile appeared on her face, and grew into a shit eating grin.

"Really, cause … I remember being on top," Helena said her eyes never leaving Barbara's as she licked her lips.

Barbara to her credit reacted by simply picking up her teacup and taking a long drink as Helena continued to leer at her.

"Was that a joke?" Dinah asked a moment later, looking between the two of them. Barbara refused to meet anyone's eyes and Helena looked down at her lap still smiling. Dinah looked between the two of them again her eyes widening. "Oh my god!" she practically squealed pointing between the two of them.

Alfred cleared his throat, leaning over Dinah's shoulder to pick up one of the empty plates. "I believe somebody's going to be late for school if they don't hurry up and get packed," he said softly looking over at Dinah who was still gaping at Barbara and Helena.

"What?" Dinah asked blinking. "Oh yeah. Yeah," she said pushing her chair back and standing up. "Right. Barbara?" she asked seeing the redhead still in her pajamas.

"I'll be along later, my first class is cancelled today because of the assembly," Barbara responded shifting in her chair. "Unless you …"

"I'll give her a ride," Helena said standing up too, piling up three plates on top of each other and picking up the pitchers of milk and orange juice in the other hand following Alfred into the kitchen. Her previous waitressing skills came in handy every now and then. "We don't want to rush perfection," she continued coming back into the eating area leaning over the back of Barbara's chair as she spoke. "Besides, I'd do it anyway. What with me being your bi…"

"Oh just go," Barbara said turning to the side capturing Helena's lips briefly before she could finish her sentence, before pulling away and pushing the brunette towards the door. "And play nice."

Helena smiled at her walking backwards with her hand over her heart for a few steps before winking at Barbara and turning to face Dinah slapping her on the back. With that they made their way to the lower part of the loft and into the apartment so Dinah could get her stuff together.

"You're being superior," Barbara commented softly, turning her head to look at Alfred once the other two had gone. She had felt him watching her all morning. He'd probably figured out what happened when Helena had emerged from her bedroom half dressed to get that cup of coffee for her before she'd woken up.

"Perish the thought," Alfred responded taking a seat opposite Barbara at the table. "Being superior would mean making a comment along the lines of 'I do say it's about time'," he continued. "And I would never say that."

"You can say it, I promise not to be offended," Barbara replied knowing that Alfred really, really wanted to say it. He was a bit of a gossipy old lady, she'd come to realize soon after they'd met.

"Oh good," Alfred said perking up. "It's about bloody time. There, that's much better," he continued sighing and looking rather pleased.

"You mean to tell me you were expecting this?" Barbara asked looking over at him with genuine curiosity, wondering if anyone was surprised by this development besides her and Dinah.

"I assure you British eyes work just as well as North American ones," Alfred responded with a smile as he stood up once more.

"What's that suppose to mean?" Barbara asked indignantly. "Are you telling me I've been ogling her or something?" she continued following his progress as he came to stand beside her.

"Congratulations," he said ignoring Barbara's indignant queries, squeezing her shoulder lightly before stepping back. "Dinner's in the fridge." And with that he too headed towards the exit, leaving Barbara alone in the clock tower's kitchen.

She leaned back in her chair, soaking up the silence with her eyes closed for a moment, before running a hand through her hair and shaking her head, a small smile playing across her lips as she thought about her and Helena. Helena and her. Them. Together. Coupled.

It was crazy. It was completely insane, was what it was.

She smiled to herself goofily and headed back towards her bathroom.

The End …?

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