Scientific Method

Author: Janine

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They are the brilliant creations of DC comics, Tollin/Robbins, the WB and probably many other people I don't know of or can't remember. I'm just borrowing them for short period of time and promise to have them back by curfew.

Fandom: Birds of Prey

Pairing: Barbara/Helena

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Barbara does some thinking and then does some doing, and then Helena does something thinking and some doing. It's a whole thinking and doing thing.

Email: One

Barbara Gordon had always considered herself to be a controlled, precise, aware individual. If there was something to see, to discover, or investigate she was the person you wanted. She would see it, find it or pierce to the heart of the matter faster and more thoroughly than anyone else. Her powers of observation and deduction were renowned by all who knew her and more than a few who did not. They were abilities she herself highly prized and had worked hard over the years to hone. It was encompassed in her very codename; she was the all-seeing, all-knowing Oracle. She could piece puzzles together from the smallest clue, deduce outcomes with the barest of details, and predict patterns of behavior from the slightest sign. Nothing got by her.

Nothing, that is, until something did.

She had not come to an erroneous conclusion while analyzing a hair sample. She had not failed to crosscheck her crosschecking thereby damaging the outcome of an investigation. No, when it came her work, when she was seated behind Delphi, plugged into the comms, scanning multiple data ports she was as accurate, precise, controlled and quick as ever. Behind Delphi her brain processed and organized information faster than she could consciously recognize. One or two voices in her ear, five monitors, one view screen, three scanners pumping information into and at her simultaneously and she could differentiate and organize all of them.

No, it wasn't her technology that let her down, that confounded her, that got past her web. Her computers and streaming data files were as comprehensible as ever. Hell, she had no problem whatsoever catching students passing notes at twenty paces, and could spot a plagiarized sentence, paragraph or essay in her sleep.

Ultimately it was she herself that slipped by her defenses; that evaded her radar. Ultimately the clues, and information, and data that she failed to process came from within her. For an undetermined amount of time, her own emotions had escaped her notice. She had … foiled herself.

It … it was not an acceptable turn of events. She was very much, in fact emphatically, against the turn that events had taken.

Or perhaps she was just taken. Well, she thought to herself as she removed her glasses and placed them on the desktop in front of her with a sigh, she was certainly taken. Taken with Helena that was.

Bringing the thumb and index finger of her right hand up to her face she pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath, holding it for a moment before laboriously releasing it.

Helena.

Her hand fell from her face and came to rest in her lap as Helena's name was softly and melodically repeated in her head, and a face so beautiful that it could have launched a hundred thousand ships danced in her minds eye.

Blinking she listlessly turned her head to the side and peered at the doors that led from the penthouse to the clock tower. She stared at the dark, stationary doors for a moment and then tucked her bottom lip between her teeth, biting down on it softly as she shook her head self-consciously and turned back to the computer screens she was supposed to be concentrating on.

She knew that Helena wasn't likely to show up for another twenty minutes or so, but she had found herself almost rhythmically looking towards the elevator doors, hoping to catch sight of the brunette sauntering in, her lips mischievously upturned as her low-lidded bedroom eyes held her gaze as she swaggered across the room.

She loved the way Helena moved. Helena moved like Helena was. Her gait and mannerisms were a mass of contradictions. She was incredibly loose limbed when she moved, everything flowing and moving almost independent of each other like she couldn't be bothered to keep track of what each of her limbs was up to. Yet they seemed to come together as if they didn't need Helena to coordinate themselves. Her movements were sure and precise, graceful and delicate. Selina had moved in the same oxymoronic way, powerful and delicate, sure and lethargic. There was something dainty and pretentious about her swagger that smelled of a privileged nonchalance to the world around her and inside of her. It was the brashly arrogant walk that swathed bright young things that had never found it necessary to worry about, contemplate or do anything their entire lives. Yet the tilt of her shoulders, the length of her step and the cant of her head came together to add on to the airiness perceived at first sight. It produced a shrewd, animal effect that would keep you off balance. She was sleek and invulnerable, both savage and beautiful, she was dusk made flesh and blood winking at you as it passed by, warm yet intangible.

Intangible. Helena was certainly that at times. She wondered if it was possible to hold on to Helena anymore than it was possible to hold onto the fading afternoon light. She had seen Helena's inconstancy in her previous relationships, if they could even be called that. She had witnessed phone calls, messages, and pages; the hands of Helena's previous lovers reaching out to find long cooled air where there had once been a warm, solid body.

Solid. Helena was certainly that as well. She had known Helena's constancy as well, had felt her hands, and arms and body when everything else around her seemed to blink and fade. Tangled in blankets, heart hammering in her chest as her eyes burned while half her body twisted, the void from her lower half seemingly creeping up her body and seeping out around her until she could make out nothing but the darkness in her room, and in her mind, a light would punch through the mist. There would be a warm hand and the smell of morning air. Nice and solid and there.

Helena.

It had been conceived – or was it birthed? – with a touch. Her hand had trailed up smooth black leather, warmed by the heat from Helena's body and the presence of the brunette's leather duster hanging over her hand and the side of Helena's body. When her hand reached near the brunette's shoulder she'd heard Helena suck in a pained breath, but had continued on her way up, pushing the material of the jacket off of Helena's shoulders, her hands cooling once again as she brought the material down. Helena was displeased then, frowning and muttering occasionally as Barbara had brought the blunt tip of a small pen laser to the edge of her shirt and turned it on, carefully, meticulously moving it upwards, cutting the bloodied, sticky material away from Helena's body. She'd peeled the black leather back when she was done, and pulled it off of Helena, the brunette's pale, reddened skin moving with it for a while as the shirt was suctioned off of her. That had left Helena lounging in front of her topless, staring blankly at something past Barbara's shoulder as the redhead brought a warm, dripping sponge to her skin cleaning the area and bloodying the cleanser. She'd stitched after that and Helena had watched, her hand coming to cover Barbara's when the redhead finished the last one. "Put it on my tab," Helena had whispered. Or had she? Perhaps she had just said it softly. It didn't matter. "Put it on my tab," Helena had said, and then she had smirked before looking down at Barbara's reddened hand. She stared at the stained skin for a long moment, and then had peered over at the redhead holding her gaze for a moment.

That had been it.

Helena had squeezed her hand after that, and mumbled 'thanks' before leaning over and digging around in the first aid kit. Her hand emerged a moment later with a small, personal sized bottle of whiskey. "You're the best stock-girl ever," Helena had then commented as she twisted the top off of the bottle and Barbara reached for the loose fitting navy t-shirt she had rested nearby. Helena had taken a swig and then lifted her arms, hissing softly as Barbara pulled the shirt down over her head, and then she'd lowered her arms and finished off the bottle as Barbara leaned back in her chair and watched her contemplatively.

She couldn't help but notice the warmth after that. And think about the smell. She had known Helena's scent, could tell that Helena had been in a room if the brunette hadn't left too long before her arrival by the faint smell in the air. Helena's scent, her aroma, her essence. She had noticed it before, she knew it but she had never thought about it until after that night. Then she couldn't stop. She wanted that scent tantalizing her nostrils all of the time and wanted to feel the delicious warmth and weight of Helena's hands on her face, on her shoulder, on … other places as well. She looked at doors anticipating her arrival, and snuck furtive glances at her when she finally did arrive.

One night. One moment. One touch. Or maybe it was the final night, the final moment, the final touch. Perhaps it was the culmination of thousands of other touches, on hundreds of nights, over millions of moments. In college she had had a white board attached to a wall in her bedroom. It was shiny and she wrote on it with many different coloured markers. She had written a math question on that board and filled it up with writing. It had been a challenge by the professor. There were no extra marks; the only prize was the sense of gratification and accomplishment one would achieve from finishing it. One night, she had reached out and made a notation. That had been it. It was the final notation. There were hundreds of them on the board, and that one had brought them all together. It was the culmination of all the others.

The thing was, with that question at least she had been aware that there was something she didn't know.

She knew now though. The question was what to do. What to do, what to do, oh what to do? And there only seemed to be one reasonable answer to the question. It was the only reasonable answer to every question. Investigate and learn. The object of love was not only to love but also to be loved. When one fell in love, the natural desire then was to be with whom one was in love with. However, in order for this natural desire to be realized, the person one loved had to love them as well. It was all very symmetrical that way. The problem, therefore, was that she did not know whether Helena was in love with, or could possibly fall in love with her. The solution then, was to investigate and learn the answer.

Yes, a scientific investigation into the matter was the most sensible course of action. She was aware that she was pining and that it was not a particularly efficient use of her time. There had been a number of operational tasks she had meant to undertake in the past few weeks that had been sidetracked by her musings. It would be best for everyone if she just got things sorted.

That was it. That was the thing to do. She would investigate and find out if Helena had romantic feelings for her too.

The first thing to do then was to observe.

"So, I was waiting at a table for my Chai Latte and biscotti flipping through an issue of Cosmo and stopped at the quiz section," Helena was rambling well into a story as she breezed into the clock tower heading straight for the station Barbara was seated at. "Only it wasn't a quiz, it was some interactive bullshit. Bastards. Anyway, it asked 'What is the sexiest thing you've seen today?' So chin on fist I hunched over and got to thinking. What was the sexiest thing I had seen all day? It was only noon, should I wait until dark to answer the question? Wow, it was hard," she continued hopping onto the desk, settling herself in front of Barbara. "But then my food arrived and I was pretty much just thinking 'Mmm'."

"Is there going to be an intermission?" Barbara interjected turning to face Helena as the brunette drew her legs up underneath her, obviously hunkering down for a long haul.

"If you think you can stand the anticipation," Helena responded easily lazily turning her head to the side, catching Barbara's eyes. "I mean, 'did she get a refill? Didn't she? Just how many child labour laws were being broken?' I know your inquisitive mind is waiting to find out."

"And you aim to please," Barbara supplied rolling her eyes.

"Only you," Helena piped up immediately. "Unless there's money … or tacos involved. Then I'm just Miss Congeniality," she went on smirking and then winking at the redhead. "So," she continued after a moment of silence, drawing out the word. "I didn't have an answer to my sexy question until I walked in here and saw you bathed in sickly, mucous-y, fluorescent green light, scowling at the screen. But once I was treated to that delectable image, there was only one answer to the question. Because, Barbara, that right there was liquid sex."

Barbara leaned back in her chair, observing Helena as the brunette lounged in front of her smiling faintly, her eyes dancing. "Oh, I see what's going on here," Barbara responded a moment later. "You're trying to be charming."

"Oh, I see what's going on here," Helena replied without missing a beat, her tone teasing and gentle. "You're trying to pretend you're not charmed."

"But you're not falling for it, are you?" Barbara asking knowingly, watching as Helena's smile grew and her eyes twinkled.

"Not for a moment," Helena replied catching Barbara's eyes and holding them as she leaned forward looking at the redhead solemnly. "I'm certain you find me absolutely irresistible," she stated. She then leaned forward, bracing her hands on the side of the desk, inching her face closer to Barbara's until they were almost nose-to-nose. She stayed like that for a moment, and then moved infinitesimally closer before grinning and hopping off of the desk, pecking Barbara on the cheek lightly before brushing past her.

Barbara was quiet as Helena leaned forward and eventually kissed her, and remained quiet for a moment as the brunette moved off behind her. The dark haired woman had no idea how right she was.

Barbara smiled at the thought, and then laughed, and kept right on laughing for quite some time. How right Helena was, right and oblivious to it. It wasn't really that funny, but she couldn't seem to stop laughing.

"It's not that funny, is it?" Helena asked in an inscrutable tone interrupting Barbara's laughing fit. Some people found her charming. She'd been on her way to the kitchen when Barbara had started laughing and had backtracked, not certain what to make of the redhead's reaction. "I'm feeling a bit insulted here," she continued kind of meaning it. "I tell you you're the sexiest thing I've seen all day and you laugh in my … well general vicinity," she went on coming to a stop beside Barbara. "Way to take a complement Gordon."

Barbara reached over resting her hand on Helena's arm lightly. She could tell that Helena was being overly dramatic on purpose for the comic effect, but she could also detect some truth to the brunette's words. She had inadvertently hurt Helena's feelings with her laughing, which was the last thing she had wanted to do.

"You're absolutely charming. Really. The apple of my eye," Barbara stated looking up into sky blue eyes. "Now sit back down and finish your story," she continued pleased to see and feel Helena relax.

"Well, I don't know," Helena said thoughtfully. "We don't want you to have another laughing fit so soon after the last one. You might not be fully recovered. Who knows what could happen. I don't know if I want to responsible for that," she finished with her hand over her heart.

"Well, if what you just said is any indication of how funny the rest of the story is going to be, I think I can safely promise you that I won't be amused. So it's perfectly safe," Barbara responded her expression serious thought her eyes shone with good humor.

"Ah shucks, Barbara," Helena declared kicking at the floor with her foot and hanging her head down like she was embarrassed. "You're gonna make my head swell," she continued as she settled herself back on the desk preparing to tell Barbara about the rest of her day, her field trip to the kitchen miraculously forgotten.

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

Barbara leaned back in her chair contentedly, watching Helena as she regaled her with tales from her day. The brunette's body was so relaxed it was almost boneless as she reclined and moved her arm about carelessly as she spoke. None of the defensiveness that usually characterized Helena's demeanor was present as she sat there. It was a truly beautiful sight to see and far too rare. When Helena had been a child she had been so open, so carefree and unselfconscious, but that was a long time ago and Barbara knew that now she was the only one, besides maybe Alfred, that got to see this side of Helena. That Helena didn't trust anyone else enough to let her guard down with them.

She allowed her eyes to close as Helena spoke and absorbed the sonorous sounds of the brunette's voice for a few moments. She allowed the woman's rich tones to vibrate through her and around her.

She loved Helena's voice, the texture of it, and the inflection. It charmed her immensely to hear the unusual cadence that graced certain syllables when Helena spoke. It was a remnant of her childhood in France, Barbara knew. Having spent her formative years speaking primary French there were certain sounds that her Norman tongue just wouldn't let her abandon, even after years of living in New Gotham and having known English since she was a child. It was almost a subtext really, something that one could only pick up on after listening to her speak for extended periods of time, which meant that very few people were able to enjoy it. When she was younger it was almost impossible to get Helena to shut up. She used to carry candy around with her when she knew she'd be seeing Selina and Helena just so she could get Helena to close her mouth for a few moments. But now, now it was a revelation to hear her speak more than a few words. Helena had managed to turn the one sentence – sometimes one word – answer into an art form.

She was, she realized, remembering some conversations she'd heard Helena engage in over recent years, extremely fortunate.

"Ah, if is isn't my delectable muffin top, the umbrella in my spritzer, the cherry on my cream …"

"The foot in your ass."

"Hopefully not until after dinner."

Silence.

"So, what can I get you, my sweet lamb chop?"

Pointed look.

"The usual it is. Coming up, right away. You've got a night off I take it?"

"Yeah."

"Well, I've got a break coming up if you want some compa…"

"Got company."

"Ah, there she is, everybody's favorite fiery-headed genius. What brings you ladies out tonight?"

"Alcohol."

"Ah, Huntress, so beautifully concise. Your way with words … word … words … wo …is truly a wonder to behold."

Pissy.

"Tonight."

"So, Barbara, how've you been?"

Barbara smiled to herself as she remembered that particular night at No Man's Land, and then considered the merits of bringing up the topic of feigning hospitality with Helena.

"How're things looking?" Helena asked drawing Barbara's eyes over to her once again as she uncrossed her legs so that they could dangle over the edge and she could scoot closer to Barbara.

"Too early to tell," Barbara responded, before peering up at Helena thoughtfully. "I suppose I should feed you now."

"I wouldn't mind that at all," Helena said hopping down off the desk offering her hand chivalrically to Barbara.

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

"So," Barbara started in what she hoped was a nonchalant voice. "Should I expect you back here after sweeps, or … do you and Reese have plans? To you know … whatever," she continued scratching at the top of the table with her thumb lightly … and nonchalantly.

"Plans?" Helena asked looking up from her fettuccini. "With Reese? Why would I have plans with Reese to do anything?"

"Oh, I don't know," Barbara replied quickly, looking over a Helena and then shifting her gaze away. "I mean, you two just seem to be getting along much better lately, and you're both young and seem to like each others … company, so …"

"We must be fucking," Helena interjected. "Or be entering the pre-fucking stage."

"I wouldn't think there'd be much 'entering' at that stage," Barbara commented off-handedly, waving her hand before turning to face Helena who was grinning at her.

Helena pointed her fork at Barbara still smiling, then shook her head and went back to her food.

"I don't have plans with Reese. And, I don't plan on having plans with Reese. There are far less aggravating ways to get laid," she continued a moment later. "Not necessarily cheaper," she went on shrugging her shoulders and winking at Barbara, "but certainly less aggravating."

Barbara met her gaze and scowled.

"What? Not in the mood for prostitution humor?" Helena asked tilting her head to the side quizzically.

"Why?" Barbara asked ignoring Helena.

"I don't know. You're the one that didn't find the joke funny," Helena responded.

"Not that," Barbara declared looking over at Helena through the corner of her eye. "I mean why don't you want to see Reese … you know socially?"

Helena was silent for a moment after that as she quietly finished up the rest of her food. "Because," she replied finally. "I mean what's it matter to you? When did you become the President of the Jesse Reese Fanclub?"

"I …" Barbara started.

"He's just more trouble than he's worth," Helena continued, ignoring or oblivious to the fact that Barbara had begun to speak. "Everything's so difficult with him. Every conversation is like some extremely fucked up episode of Falcon Crest or something. It's a lot more fun to flirt with him than like actually talk to him."

"I don't remember that being a requirement in the past," Barbara said smirking a little.

Helena glanced over at the redhead and then away from her as she leaned back in her chair, before finally training her eyes on Barbara once more and keeping them there.

"Well, this isn't the past is it?" she replied finally. "Oh look," she continued glancing down at herself. "Personal growth."

"I didn't mean to imply …" Barbara began again.

"That I'm a skanky ass bitch?" Helena asked quirking an eyebrow.

"I would've gone with 'big ho', but that'll do," Barbara confirmed.

"What did you mean to imply?" Helena asked a moment later, leaning back in her chair once again, her posture slightly defensive though her voice was calm.

"I didn't mean to imply anything," Barbara responded truthfully. "If long term compatibility, conversation skills, and similar pastimes were part of your dating criteria in the past and I besmirched your honor than I apologize."

Helena sighed deeply at that and allowed her eyes to drift away from Barbara's as her right hand lifted to face level and she rested the tip of her pinky finger on her lip, biting on the nail.

"Fine, alright," she said finally, her voice a bit wary. "I had no honor to 'besmirch'. I was a big, 'ol skanky ass bitch ho, and don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, or get a young pup to stop turning them," she continued pushing back from the table to stand up.

"Helena," Barbara said imploringly, wondering how the conversation could've gone so wrong. "I don't think, and I never thought you were a big skanky ass bitch ho," she continued shaking her head slightly as that particular phrase came out of her mouth. "I … I just wanted to know if you were seeing Reese."

"Why? Are you hoping his shiny cuff link, necktie wearing, tight little ass will be good for me something? Because everybody knows that having a good man will solve any woman's problems." Helena plopped back down in her chair despite her mildly hostile tone however. "Trapped in a well, that's easy find a man. Losing at Bingo, find a man. Liver lacerated in a freak …"

"Sarcasm received and duly noted," Barbara broke in interrupting Helena's tirade. "I think we both know that's not a lesson that I'm likely to be preaching this lifetime or any other. Sorry," Barbara went on holding up her hands. "Didn't mean to take an interest in your life."

"Okay," Helena said looking over at Barbara, her tone conciliatory and her posture cowed. Perhaps she had overreacted. "Okay," she repeated holding up her hands in a manner similar to how Barbara had only moments before. "I might not have been very … discerning in my youth. Whatever. I am now, or at least I'm trying to be. He's hot, and he's been a lot of help, but I'm fairly certain if we spent any amount of time together not talking about corpses or drug lords he'd bug the living shit out of me. So, I don't have plans with Reese and I don't plan on having any plans with Reese. Okay?"

"Yeah," Barbara replied a bit helplessly, though she was pleased to hear that Helena was taking a more responsible approach to dating. "I mean, I was just asking."

Helena tilted her head up at that so that she could see Barbara's face.

She smiled and shook her head.

"How's Wade?" she asked suddenly, smiling a bit wider. "Still smitten? Does he still want his widdle bunny wabbit back?"

"Oh god," Barbara moaned burying her head in her hands before pushing away from the table.

"You brought it on yourself you know," Helena commented delighting in the embarrassed flush that was covering Barbara's skin.

"I did?" Barbara asked clearly surprised.

"Um hmm," Helena nodded solemnly. "You're so much cuter than his other friends."

Barbara smirked at that but said nothing. She should never have told Helena about that. It had been fodder for far too many jokes.

"You should've just crushed him when you had the chance," Helena continued knowing that she had Barbara's attention even though the redhead was trying to pretend she was ignoring her. "You should've said, 'Wade I don't think we should see each other anymore. And by 'not see each other' I mean, fuck off and die loser!' And then maybe you could've laughed manically and thrown erasers at his feet while cackling, 'dance monkey boy dance!'" Helena went on watching as Barbara tried to fight the smile that was spreading across her face. "It would've been far less ambiguous, than 'let's just be friends'. Funnier too."

"You should get changed," Barbara commented wheeling towards the elevator choosing not to acknowledge Helena's little speech. "Dinah will be back from Gabby's soon so you two can sweep."

"I could egg his car, maybe TP his house if you want. Actually I'd enjoy that," Helena commented getting up from the table and following Barbara to the elevator. "It'd be a nice day out."

"Stay away from his car, his house, his mailbox, his dog, his parents cars, his parents house, his parents mailbox, his parents dog, his school mailbox, his parking spot, his dry cleaners … his parents dry cleaners …"

Helena laughed as the elevator doors closed and Barbara continued to ramble her list of things she was supposed to stay away from. She hadn't said anything about his fish … ah dammit.

Part Two

A Week Later …

Barbara watched the two blonde heads, one curly and one straight, disappear into the crowd as the two girls muscled and shyly smiled their way through the crowded bar towards the front of the stage. The Dark Horse had a live performer that night, and when Dinah had heard that it was some woman by the name of Haviland Kale she had started squealing insisting that Barbara had to let her go and that they had to bring Gabby along, since this Kale person was like totally Gabby's favorite singer that nobody had ever heard of. After a plea like that, and assurances from both girls that they would be on their best behavior and absolutely wouldn't try to scam drinks, Barbara couldn't not agree.

"I haven't seen this place so crowded in a long time," Barbara commented as Helena came over to where she was seated by the bar in rare quiet moment.

"I know," the raven-haired woman muttered darkly looking around. "It's the live band," she continued shaking her head.

"Have you heard of her before?" Barbara asked turning her head towards the stage momentarily.

"Yeah," Helena replied absently, her eyes scanning the bar for any customers. She'd barely had a thirty second break between customers all night. The Dark Horse was packed to capacity. "I was here when Leonard auditioned her too. What a joke," Helena continued shaking her head. "She's got like three different record labels looking at her now, and Leonard's all 'hmmm, I'll let you know'."

Barbara returned her attention to Helena, smiling at the brunette's tone and rolling eyes. "She's good. She has a rich, smooth sound, very soulful. I like it."

"Yeah," Helena agreed, throwing a hand towel over her shoulder as she spotted someone approaching her station. "If Nina Simone, Etta James and Billie Holliday had a love child," she trailed off. "Be right back."

Barbara was about to turn around so she was facing the stage once more as Helena moved off, however something in the brunette's gait caught her attention. It was off somehow. Helena wasn't quite limping, but she was favoring her right side throwing off the usual flow of her movements.

"She's certainly brought in a higher class of clientele, I'll say that," Helena commented as she rested her elbows on the bar and leaned forward so that her lips were closer to Barbara and she wouldn't have to speak as loudly. "I've never had so many requests for champagne and ice-wine. But hey, no mixing required which I'm all for."

"I thought you liked showing off your 'mad' skills," Barbara commented playfully.

"Whatever B-Rad. But if you start saying bizzle, talking about me getting up in your hizzouse, and telling me that this is how you do things in the N.G., bitch, I might just have to up my therapy sessions," Helena responded pouring a shot glass full of amber liquid and pushing it over to Barbara. "I take good care of you," she continued when Barbara accepted the glass with a questioning look.

"You should let me return the favor," Barbara replied before bringing the glass to her lips and downing the shot in one gulp, flipping it over and placing it down on the bar top rim first.

"God I wish I could've seen you at a kegger," Helena declared wistfully before grinning at the redhead. She loved layers.

"What happened to your leg?" Barbara asked drawing the brunette's attention back to her previous comment.

"Ah, nothing. Got thrown into railing last night," Helena responded shrugging though she lowered her voice. "Took it harder than I thought. It's nothing," she went on trying to play down the injury. Really for her it wasn't that big of deal. She'd be uncomfortable for the rest of the night, but by noon the next day she'd hardly feel it.

"I should take a look at it," Barbara said looking up, capturing Helena's eyes when they roved towards her. "Just to make sure. Even with your rapid ability to heal, you still need to take care of yourself."

Helena looked away from Barbara after she finished speaking and focused her eyes into the crowd. She was looking towards the stage but not at it. Mostly she was trying not to look at Barbara. The quietly concerned tone that Barbara had spoken in made it impossible for her to take the comment the wrong way. Besides, Barbara was right as usual. She just didn't want the redhead poking and prodding at her. Especially considering the damaged area was in one of those embarrassing places she had complained about months ago. However, she knew if she complained and refused to let Barbara take a look at it she'd be in for an inquisition that she really wasn't it the mood for. She'd never been shy about reveling her body, or letting Barbara touch pretty much all of it when patching her up, so the redhead would definitely want to know what was up if she started acting modest and bashful all of a sudden.

"Yeah. Yeah, okay. My shifts over in like fifteen anyway. We can go up to my place, let Dinah and whatshername …"

"You know what her name is. Why do you pretend like you don't take an interest in Dinah's life when you know you know every little detail?"

"Let Dinah and Gabby enjoy the rest of the set. And I don't know every little detail … no matter how hard I try," Helena finished up, giving a pointed look to Barbara.

"Don't give me that look," Barbara complained pointing at Helena.

"What look?" the brunette asked.

"You know what look."

"If I knew what look I wouldn't have said 'What look', would I?"

"Yes."

"Yes I would've said 'what look', or yes I wouldn't have said 'what look'?"

"You're being purposefully obtuse."

"Really? I was trying to be more acute."

Barbara smirked. "I'm gonna need another drink."

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

Helena sighed inaudibly and reached for the waistband of her pants, easily popping open the button and pulling down the zipper. Then, after quickly glancing behind her, she grasped the waistband and begun to tug her pants down, shimming slightly to get out of the tight material. Once she'd gotten it down to her feet, she quickly stepped out of the denim pool and turned to face Barbara in nothing but a tank top and her French-cut underwear.

Barbara gasped slightly when she saw the discolouration around the top of Helena's right thigh and hipbone, and thought at herself very sternly that she would only gasp at that and not the sight of Helena standing half naked in front of her in French-cut underwear.

"Yeah," Helena breathed out, more to break the tension in the room than anything. "That sounded promising," she continued looking over at her bed and then finally just walking over to it and lying down.

"Don't be a smart ass," Barbara commented looking over at her before placing her hands on Helena's thigh, feeling the bruised area delicately to assess how much damage had actually been done. All work and no play … was the sensible, less potentially disastrous course of action.

"I've been told it's a fine ass before, smart is new though. Maybe I shoulda let my ass take my S.A.Ts," Helena replied once again more to hear the sound of her voice than anything else as Barbara began to probe the area around the lacy material of her underwear.

"Considering the amount of time you spent, or rather didn't spend, in class and studying, your S.A.T scores were miraculously high," Barbara responded though her eyes remained trained on Helena's skin. "If … well, under normal circumstances you probably would've been in the schools top 10 percent."

"If I ever get my own E! True Hollywood story, you have to make them put that in there. 'She wasn't stupid, just traumatized. Honest'," Helena spoke as Barbara's hands left her skin and the redhead reached down for something on the floor beside her.

"I'll make sure it's the tagline," Barbara promised smirking over at the younger woman, as she rubbed some oil into her hands. "The bruising isn't too bad, your regenerative gifts have healed that up pretty nicely," Barbara explained as she returned her hands to Helena's flesh. The brunette hadn't shifted or complained when she was probing, and she could see that the skin was already returning to a more regular hue. "It caused you to put some strain on your leg muscles though and they've tensed up, which is what's really causing the pain."

"But you're gonna take care of that," Helena supplied as Barbara began to work her hands into her muscles. Helena hissed.

"No pain, no gain," Barbara philosophized, not stopping her movements.

"Or no pain, no pain," Helena said as she swatted at Barbara's hands, though she wasn't really trying to get the redhead to stop.

"Oh quit it," Barbara commented barely paying attention to Helena, knowing the brunette wasn't serious. "You're such a baby sometimes."

"No I'm not," Helena muttered before lapsing into silence. Barbara didn't have to look up to know that she was pouting. She had to force herself not to smile.

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

Barbara looked up at Helena's face as she finished up with the massage. The brunette's eyes were closed, and her bottom lip was tucked between her teeth. She had quieted down once she had gotten into the massage, her fingers expertly working Helena's muscles. As she gazed at her then, Barbara thought that Helena looked rather peaceful, almost angelic. She wasn't asleep though, the redhead was sure of it. She could still feel a certain amount of tension running through the brunette's body, even though she had worked out all of the kinks in her leg.

"Helena," Barbara breathed softly, her fingers ghosting along the brunette's cheek as she spoke.

"Yeah," Helena replied immediately, her eyes shooting open as she propped herself on her elbows and scooted a bit further away from Barbara.

"I'm done," Barbara told her, trying to keep her voice level and not show the surprise, or excitement she felt, when Helena's eyes met hers. Helena's normally sky blue eyes had flushed a deeper, more intense shade of blue. So blue they were almost violet. And her pupils had narrowed into catlike slits. "That wasn't so bad was it," she continued casually, pushing away from the bed a bit so that Helena could swing her legs over the edge. The brunette had averted her eyes almost as soon as Barbara had seen them, obviously not wanting Barbara to see since they both knew what it would it mean in a situation like the one they were in.

"Nah," Helena responded, her voice soft and breathy as she looked over at Barbara, her eyes their normal blue as she met the redhead's green orbs. She cocked her head to the side after that and listened for a moment. "The music's stopped. They'll be here soon," she said standing up, referring to Dinah and Gabby who were instructed to come up to the apartment when their fun was over. "I should probably put some pants on."

Part Three

The Next Evening …

Barbara smiled fondly, shaking her head before turning her gaze away from the scene on the couch. Helena had been sprawled out on the couch napping when she and Dinah and returned to the clock tower from school, and had actually managed to rouse herself enough to lift a hand in greeting before snuggling back into the couch, drawing the pillow towards her body as she nodded back off. She'd woken back up about half an hour after that and had immediately gotten into some kind of argument with Dinah which somehow led to Helena painting the blonde's toenails, which was the scene Barbara had just turned away from.

Once again facing her monitor she tried to focus on the information being displayed on the screen, but was finding it difficult to concentrate. All she could think about was the previous week, and the previous night in particular. She had determined from past experience that Helena interacted with her in a manner that was most often completely different, and sometimes contradictory, to how she acted around pretty much everyone else. But it wasn't until the night before that she was able to really discern whether or not Helena was attracted to her, because despite Helena's sometimes schizophrenic personality, one character trait that was almost always present was that the brunette was a terrific flirt. She flirted with everyone, and really everything, man, animal or plant, nothing and no one was safe. Barbara had caught her looking at her reflection in the mirror once and found the display almost indecent. However, Barbara knew for a fact that Helena flirting with someone didn't mean that she was particularly interested in them, which seemed to be the case with Detective Reese. And this had made things more difficult for her investigation, because it was impossible for her to tell if Helena's flirting meant anything when it was directed at her. After all, the brunette had been flirting with her in varyingly sophisticated ways since she was about fifteen, just like she had been flirting with everybody else. It was certainly a case of 'like mother, like daughter' in that regard. The Kyle's were just a sensual people.

However, after the brunette's reaction to, well to whatever it was she had been doing to her in her apartment the previous night, Barbara felt it was safe to assume that Helena was indeed attracted to her. She knew that Helena's eyes only became feral when she felt stressed, or was feeling the rush of adrenaline that accompanied the thrill of fighting and/or sexual arousal. Helena had, in an equally bitter and humorous way, complained to her about her eyes changing in sexual situations on numerous occasions. Apparently the brunette felt that it made it difficult for her to 'get her swerve on', because she had to worry about keeping her eyes closed, her head turned away, or keeping whoever she was with distracted enough that they wouldn't notice. She'd been so frustrated with it at one point that she'd asked Barbara if wearing contacts would mask it.

Barbara tilted her head to the side curiously as that thought came to her. At the time she had thought that contacts would help mask it, and she then wondered if Helena had gone ahead and bought them. The subject hadn't been brought up again after that conversation, but that didn't necessarily mean anything since it wasn't as if they had regularly scheduled chats about it or anything. But, she knew for a fact that the raven-haired beauty hadn't been wearing them the night before. Then again, she figured that Helena probably wouldn't have thought that there was any reason to have needed them. If she had even bought them. Besides, with her Helena needn't bother herself with all of that. If she had bothered herself at all that was. Because she knew about it all, and if she were going to be completely honest with herself, she liked it, the fire Helena's feral eyes held, the passion. It was extremely intense, and in that intensity extremely pleasurable.

She was digressing.

The night before had proved that there was some real sentiment behind Helena's flirting. It proved that brunette was attracted to her, or at least could be sexually aroused by her. Which meant that it was time to consider what that meant.

After all, Helena had pulled away from her the night before, had hidden her face, which was tantamount to trying to hide her attraction. But why? There were two likely reasons that Barbara could see. One was that she was ashamed of the reaction, of her body's response to Barbara's touch, and the animalism of her response, which was personified by her eyes. Helena had at times divulged a certain animosity towards her baser instincts, a resentment of the influence they held over her actions and reactions to things. She hadn't come right out and said it, but at times Barbara was certain that Helena felt almost trapped, or at least felt constricted to a certain degree, by her feral nature. But, at the same time, that had usually been directed outward, in that it made it difficult for her to interact with other people at times, or inward in that it made it difficult to deal with herself at times. It was the rare occasion that Helena had tried to shield her from that part of herself. Barbara had seen Helena feral hundreds, if not thousands of times, when training, when arguing, even at times when Helena related stories of scrapes she had gotten into on sweeps, or was regaling her with tales of her sexual exploits. That being so, the only time Helena had tried to cover up her feral reactions was when it happened when they were really arguing about something, and Barbara believed that was more because the brunette didn't want her to think that things were about to become physical, rather than out of any modesty.

So Barbara was left with option number two, which was that Helena was trying to control her reaction. She knew that the longer Helena concentrated on something when feral, the stronger the emotions, the burn would become. Helena had once told her that it was like drowning. One moment you're wading, the water around your knees, and then next moment its all around you, you've been consumed by it and you can't see a way out. She hadn't actually seen Helena lose control, but she'd heard it. They both tried to keep an emotional distance between themselves and the people they helped. Helena would've probably said that Barbara was better at that then her, but Barbara wasn't so certain, especially in her Batgirl days. As it was, there were certain crimes and thus certain types of criminals that it was extremely difficult to remain unemotional about, and on a few, rare, occasions she had heard growling from Huntress's end of the transceiver, and flesh angrily slapping against flesh, and at times like that was certain that it was her voice in Helena's ear that had guided the brunette to the surface. Once after training, Barbara had asked Helena if it was the same when she … and Helena had merely smirked and bit her lip coyly before walking out of the room. It was an affirmative.

This led Barbara to believe that Helena turned away because she was trying to get herself, her emotions, under control so that she wouldn't act in a way that she would regret later. As far as Barbara was concerned it was most likely the case that Helena was concerned with her feelings, and with the consequences of rashly acting on her desire. She was trying to be mature and considerate. She was probably even more than a bit wary of scaring her off, or of revealing something that could change their relationship. If this was the case, it meant that Helena's feelings weren't simply physical but also emotional, or romantic, as it were.

Barbara glanced back over at the couch. The toenail painting had stopped sometime during her musings and Dinah had taken out a text book and was hunched over it, occasionally turning to look at Helena who was still seated beside her, only now eating a pop tart while rhythmically raising up her hand and flicking her wrist so that her palm was in front of Dinah's face. Barbara shook her head as she saw Dinah start to glare at Helena, before she started uttering a procession of exasperated statements and half statements:

"Ohmygod! That is so '98!"

"What's wrong with you?"

"Why can't you just …"

"I hate you so much!"

"Just look at the …"

"I'll cram that pop tart down your …"

"I'm gonna tell …"

"Ugh! You suck"

All of which were met with Helena's hand flicking up into her face, and the brunette's shoulders shaking slightly as she tried to suppress her laughter.

Before Barbara herself could intercede however, Helena ate the last bit of her pop tart and finally turned around to face Dinah, glancing down at the textbook the girl had spread out in front of her. Dinah then watched Helena a bit dubiously as the brunette craned her neck to see the blonde's notebook, but relaxed a bit when Helena picked up her pencil and made a notation, though it didn't stop her from belligerently muttering "just because you're helping me doesn't mean you're not an ass," which sent Helena into a bit of a laughing fit.

Part Four

Two Days Later …

"You what?" Helena asked, her tone barely a whisper as she locked her eyes on Barbara.

"I let Dinah borrow it," Barbara responded smiling easily. "She was so excited about the party, and when she heard she could wear your Donatella skirt, I thought she was going to sprain her face her smile was so large," she continued fondly, smiling gently at the memory.

Helena was often impatient with people, and was more impatient with people she was 'dating' than anyone else. Exasperation and frustration were the key staples of the relationships Helena had had that lasted more than a week. The brunette simply didn't want to be bothered dealing with other people's bullshit. She refused to be put out for them. As soon as a relationship started to become inconvenient by interfering with her plans, or random whims, she would blow out the flame like a candle. During their talk about Reese, Helena had stated that there were 'less aggravating ways to get laid,' and from what Barbara had seen this was a sentiment of Helena's that applied far beyond Reese to everyone she had ever dated.

That became the crux of the matter for her. From what she had observed of Helena, and learned from her considerations of their relationship as it stood, she was confident that she was closer to Helena than anyone, and that Helena's feelings for her were more than platonic. The real question had become whether or not Helena's feelings were romantic. That is to say, it was to figure out whether Helena simply was attracted to her and wouldn't mind screwing her from time to time, or whether Helena was interested in entering into a meaningful, committed, emotionally entangling relationship? She believed that it was the latter. She believed that Helena was capable of committing, that Helena wanted to commit, and she knew that she wanted to be the one that Helena committed to.

Whether or not that would, whether that could, happen would be determined by patience. If Helena were in love with her, then she would be patient with her. She wouldn't be rash, or inconsiderate, or inconstant, despite any exasperation or frustration she may feel towards her. If Helena were in love with her, she would try and ride out any ripples, or waves that might rise up between them. If Helena were in love with her, she would be patient, and once the seas calmed she would be standing by Barbara's side.

That was the theory at least, a theory that Barbara was going to put to the test.

"Of course she was happy. It's fucking Donatella. My fucking Donatella!" Helena exclaimed, clearly past the shocked, barely audible part of the conversation. "How … why …" she continued glaring down at Barbara, her eyes wide, her tone bewildered. "It's my favorite skirt," she went on a moment later, her voice quieter and dejected as she crossed her arms over her chest and slouched down a bit. "You know it is," she said accusingly, lifting up her chin just enough to glower at Barbara.

"I know," Barbara admitted, her voice a bit contrite but also hopeful. "It's a great skirt. That's why I let her borrow it. She was so worried about making a good showing at the party, and who knows more about fashion trends than you? If you liked it, Dinah certainly couldn't go wrong with it," she continued reasonably, smiling encouragingly.

"But," Helena started, not able to disagree with what Barbara said. She did have great taste, was always up on the latest trends, and Dinah would kill in the skirt.

"I'm sorry Helena," Barbara interjected before the brunette could say anything else. "I didn't think you'd mind this much. She's borrowed your clothes before, albeit illicitly, and with you helping her out with her homework and painting her nails I thought you'd be okay with it. In an annoyed, but loving older sister sort of way," she continued looking guilelessly over at the dark-haired woman. "You know she looks up to you."

"More like down on me…fucking giant," Helena muttered under her breath shifting her weight under Barbara's eyes. The redhead was right in a way. Dinah was like her little sister, kind of. An annoying little sister at least. And she did kind of like taking the kid under her wing and showing the ropes, whether it be high kicks or calculus. She liked that the kid would come to her for advice and help, even though she would never admit it to her, or even Barbara – though she suspected the redhead was on to her anyway. But still, they were her clothes. Her. She sighed, she was beginning to feel ashamed of her self-possessiveness. That was just great.

"What was that?" Barbara asked, really not quite catching all of what Helena said though she was able to tell it had something to do with height.

"Nothing," Helena said louder, uncrossing her arms and standing up straighter, determining not to brood about the loss of her clothes in Barbara's presence anymore. "Clearing my throat."

"You're upset," Barbara stated watching as Helena looked around the room restlessly.

"No I'm not," Helena responded looking over at Barbara, challenging the redhead to disagree with her.

"I've got an idea that might cheer you up," Barbara replied moving closer to where Helena had settled herself against a desk.

"I don't need to be cheered up. I'm not upset," Helena responded though she couldn't keep a small bit of interest out of her voice as she perked up a little. She was a little bit upset.

"Alright, I've got an idea that absolutely won't cheer you up. In fact, ideally it will severely depress you," came Barbara's reply a few seconds later, accompanied by a teasing sort of grin.

"Okay," Helena agreed dourly but gamely, turning to face Barbara. "What is it?"

Barbara was quiet for a moment after Helena spoke. "Are you sure you don't need to be cheered up?" she asked turning to glance at Helena as she moved over to the coffee table.

"Just tell me what we're doing tonight," Helena growled, though she trailed after Barbara dutifully, dumping herself on the couch while the redhead sorted through her mail.

"Do you want a Discover card?" Barbara inquired cocking her head up to look at Helena. "You'll get a free … okay then, junk pile it is," she continued when Helena simply stared at her looking distinctly unimpressed. "Are you sure …"

"Barbara, I swear to God," Helena interjected struggling into a sitting position as she pointed warningly at the redhead. "Just tell me what we're doing tonight."

"You're going to agree, just like that?" Barbara asked looking over at Helena with a mockingly worried expression on her face. "After I promised that it absolutely won't cheer you up, and would hopefully severely depress you?"

"Ideally," Helena replied.

"What?"

"You said 'ideally'. That it would 'ideally' severely depress me," Helena answered smirking over at the redhead. "Besides, you didn't mean it. So, yeah I'll agree," she went on a bit smugly. "We're probably just going for funnel cakes. Are we going for funnel cakes?" she asked brightening a bit. That would certainly unofficially cheer her up.

"Yes," Barbara replied nodding her head, watching as Helena smiled at the idea of funnel cakes. "I did say 'ideally', didn't I? Anyway, we're not going for funnel cakes," she continued tossing the mail back onto the table before looking over at Helena. One piece of paper remained in her lap, and without taking her eyes off of the brunette she reached down and picked up the sheet, handing it over to the younger woman.

Helena stared at the piece of paper for a long moment before finally raising her eyes and looking toward Barbara.

"You're joking." It was a statement, not a question.

"No," Barbara responded simply.

"I'm not …" Helena started shaking her head.

"You already agreed," Barbara pointed out haughtily, reaching over and taking the paper back. "You're going to have to change."

"No, I don't have to change, because I lied. I take it back. I officially unagree. Unagree, write that down," Helena declared pointing at the redhead before standing up. "And for the record. You," she continued waving her finger of accusation in Barbara's general direction. "Conniver."

"Is that what I am?" Barbara asked amused by the entire display Helena had just put on.

"Yeah," Helena replied instantly.

"There are worse things," Barbara decided out loud a second later. "After all, it got me a date for the banquet," she continued quite correctly.

"I told you I unagreed to go," Helena stated nonetheless sitting back down.

"You can't unagree," Barbara replied in a reasonable tone, watching as the brunette shifted on the couch irritably.

"Why not?" Helena asked though her tone was somewhat dejected as if she realized that no matter what happened she wasn't going to come out on top in this discussion.

"Because there's no such thing. Unagree isn't a real word. It's a font of nothing, meaning you've communicated nothing. So, because of this flagrant use of non-words we're left with an official response that is absent of any meaning. Due to this the only reasonable course of action is to defer to your first reply," Barbara replied leaning back in her chair lazily, her eyes on Helena the whole time. "Wear something black. It brings out your eyes," she finished waving her hand in front of her face to indicate Helena's eyes.

"I hate you."

"And make sure it's something classy," Barbara continued as if Helena hadn't spoken. "Nothing with cut-outs." She just didn't understand the brunette's fondness for cut-outs. They were so jarring with the shirt, shirt, shirt …breast!

"Go to hell."

"I'll pick you up at 8," Barbara went on glancing down at her watch to check the time. That would give them both plenty of time to get ready and get to the banquet without arriving late enough to make a scene.

"It'll be a long wait," Helena muttered before pausing momentarily. "Because I'm not going!"

Barbara sniffed the air lightly, and then leaned towards where Helena was seated breathing in again and nodding her head approvingly. "You smell nice. Is that a new perfume? You should wear that tonight."

Helena sighed. "I'm driving."

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

Helena lifted her head off of the back of the chair she was lounging in and opened her mouth allowing a spoonful of delicious coffee ice-cream to be placed in her mouth. She closed her lips around the spoon, sucking the substance off of the utensil, her tongue flicking out to lick the end of it as she spoon was lifted away from her mouth.

"Why did you even want me to come to this thing? Half the people here have arrested me at some point. In fact I think they've started a pool on how long it'll take me to get arrested tonight," Helena commented opening her eyes and turning her head to the side so that she was looking over at Barbara. The redhead had been mingling for the better part of the hour leaving her free to crawl off into the corner and mope about what a sucker she was for agreeing to come to the stupid dinner. If it was anyone but Barbara …

"Odds on that are in your favor, most of them had you drunk and slurring by this time," Barbara replied glancing down at her watch playfully. "And you haven't been arrested that many times, and most of them were in the line of duty. I know you don't like to talk about it, but if you'd just wear a …"

"Hey, take it down a notch will you. I came to this stupid thing, didn't I? Can't we save the lecture? I mean is it really necessary to start up a game of 'Helena Kyle You Suck This Hard, See Here's the List'?"

"Helena," Barbara said drawing the brunette's eyes over to her. "I would never play that game. I know the only sucking you do is recreational."

Helena smirked at that. "You're in a mood tonight, aren't you?" she asked actually sounding genuinely amused. "How much have you had to drink?" she continued looking over at Barbara seriously.

"Only the one glass. I'm not drunk," Barbara replied meeting Helena's gaze. She really couldn't blame the woman for asking. In her case she probably would've asked the same question. "I'm just happy. I'm glad you folded like a cake in the rain and actually came," Barbara continued smirking over at the brunette.

"Was that supposed to cheer me up?" Helena asked a bit peevishly, though she was a little charmed by Barbara's smile. "Cause if so you certainly know how to sweet talk the ladies. 'You're a weak-minded, co-dependant, short bus riding, renaissance fair attending, hoser. Gimme some sweet, sweet lovin','" she continued mockingly, leaning back in her chair once again, watching as Barbara played with the dessert she had fed her earlier. "And when did I say to stop feeding me?"

Barbara glanced over at the brunette, more than a little amused. "A new game then," she declared smiling. "Open the hanger, the planes coming in," she continued in a singsong voice, scooping some ice-cream onto the spoon and lifting it into Helena's waiting mouth.

"I shouldn't be letting you do this," Helena mumbled as she swallowed, freeing her mouth just in time to accept another spoonful from Barbara. "My reps gonna be shot if this gets out."

"Then why are you?" Barbara asked her tone light though she was genuinely curious. Helena's behavior was as usual for her, as the way she had been acting all night was for her. However, Barbara knew why she was acting slightly out of character, and could only hope about why Helena was.

"I don't know," Helena responded tilting her head to the side to look at Barbara, sounding a bit curious as if she was only then giving some thought to the motivation for her actions, or inactions as the case may be. "I guess you cheered me up," she continued a moment later, smirking over at Barbara.

Barbara smiled, and then turned her head away from Helena to look into the room, trying to compose her thoughts a bit. They were in a corner of the room, half shielded by an overgrown potted plant. Barbara knew Helena chose the spot to escape to not only because it was private, but because she had a view of the entire room and all the exits from it. It was practical as well as anti-social and the thought made her smile. In a room full of current and ex-police officers, the twenty-something bartender, slouching in the corner of the room being hand feed was the person most prepared to spot trouble and provide a defense.

"And when …"

"Yeah, yeah," Barbara interrupted turning back to face Helena. "You didn't. Here," she said shoving the spoon at Helena before the brunette had a chance to fully open her mouth, causing some of it to spill on her chin.

"You gonna get that?" Helena asked a bit grumpily quirking an eyebrow at Barbara before glancing to the side to see if there were any napkins nearby.

Barbara considered the brunette for a long moment, a little Barbara in a red suit appearing on her shoulder whispering bad things into her ear. It never sounded so good to be bad. But she shouldn't, she couldn't. Could she? She spared a glance back at the room. Her father was clear on the other end surrounded by a group of men and women. Letting her eyes drift around the rest of the room she saw that nobody was watching them. She was actually fairly certain nobody even knew where they were. Still, she shouldn't … but … no … could she?

Helena gasped slightly when she felt Barbara's tongue on her chin, and she held her breath as she felt that tongue flick against her skin as it licked its way up towards her mouth, cleaning up the spilt ice-cream, stopping just before it reached her lips.

"Barbara," Helena breathed out a moment later, her eyes focused on the room laid out in front of her. Her fucking heart! It was beating fast, too fast … her fucking heart! What the hell was that?

Barbara had leaned back in her chair the moment Helena's chin was clean and had begun playing with the dessert. And she kept right on playing with it after the brunette spoke, only stopping to spare her a brief glance, leaving Helena no option but to wonder what the hell had just happened. "I really wish I could've seen you at a kegger," was what the brunette finally settled on saying a moment later, looking back over at the redhead with a slightly dazed expression. "You and Jell-O shots must've been a deadly combination." 'Barbara's tongue, Barbara's tongue.' Helena's hand twitched. She needed to think about something else. Bringing up Jell-O shots hadn't been the brightest idea. Now she was thinking about Barbara's tongue and suctioning.

"Actually, the tequila shooters were more fun," Barbara replied licking her lips before spooning some of the ice-cream into her mouth. Jesus, what had she been thinking? The answer was obvious, she hadn't been thinking, and she guessed that was sort of the point. Maybe she should look into that when she was done with her current investigation. Something along the lines of the effects of mental stimulus on …

"I can't believe that," Helena stated shaking her head, finally having gathered back some of her wits. Barbara hadn't reacted at all to the licking and it was making her wonder if she was the one that was wrong to think that it was a wee bit strange … and really, really hot. After all it was Barbara, and Barbara was very much with propriety and sensibility … or at the very least with the illusion of it. So if Barbara had licked her chin in the middle of a room full of cops, one of whom happened to be her father, then it must've been a completely appropriate, and sensible thing to do. After all the mess had to be cleaned up somehow, hadn't it? So why not in an obscenely sexy, tongue led … oh great the heart palpitations were back. At least she had managed to add something somewhat relevant to the conversation before her hormones tripped out again. She knew from personal experience that Jell-O shooters were a hellava lot of fun.

"All depends on what you use for the salt," Barbara replied almost philosophically, before looking over at Helena as she licked the spoon clean. She resisted the urge to shake her head. Why couldn't she seem to keep her tongue in her mouth? Maybe she was drunk. She was going to take a look at that label. Something wasn't quite right in the room and she didn't want to think about her being the problem anymore.

"I guess what they say about Reverend's daughters and policeman's daughters is true," Helena finally commented after a long moment of silence. "You're my hero," she continued staring at Barbara with an expression so excessively doting that it was comical. Ah, sweet banter. This Helena understood, this she could deal with.

Barbara looked up at the ceiling as if she were considering what Helena had just said for a few moments, and then turned back to the brunette. "That sounds about right," she murmured, her fist tucked underneath her chin, nodding scholarly.

Helena glanced over at her tenderly, smiling before rolling her own eyes towards the ceiling. "Seriously, when did I say to stop feeding me?"

Part Five

Three days later…

"So, what's the problem?" Helena asked tossing her jacket over the nearest chair as she strode into the clock tower. Barbara, quelle surprise, was up on the little platform where Delphi was housed, and from the little feet she could hear pitter pattering on the upper level, Dinah was up there doing something.

"There's a problem?" Dinah asked jumping towards the railing and leaning over it so that she could see both Barbara and Helena. She didn't know there was a problem. Why didn't she know there was a problem? They never told her anything!

"It's in the washroom," Barbara replied keeping her eyes on Helena, though her head twitched to the side slightly indicating that she had heard Dinah's query but was ignoring it. She had to concentrate.

Helena simply stared at her dully.

"It's in the washroom," Barbara repeated, half sighing with some exasperation as Helena continued to stare at her skeptically.

Helena remained silent at that only quirking her eyebrow to indicate she had heard the redhead before tilting her head up to peer at Dinah. The blonde shrugged.

Helena turned back towards Barbara only to find the spot the redhead had been occupying a few moments before vacant. Barbara had started towards the back of the clock tower while she and Dinah were exchanging clueless stares.

She looked after Barbara for a moment and then shrugged and started after her.

"So what's the problem?" Helena asked again as they moved towards the washroom. It was adjoined to the bedroom Barbara kept in the clock tower, and thus most often used.

"Calcium build-up," Barbara told her seriously, looking back at Helena before shaking her head sadly. Acting, she thought to herself impressed with her steady voice and unwavering stare. Acting.

"Calcium build-up?" Helena asked not quite following.

"In the showerhead, yeah," Barbara confirmed opening the washroom door and heading in holding it open rather chivalrically for Helena. She frowned a bit, and wondered if she should be being chivalric. Was she usually chivalric? She wasn't sure. She had to be careful, she didn't want to overdo it and make Helena suspicious, and it was usually Helena who opened doors for her. However, that was mostly because the brunette tended to get to them more quickly than she did. So, the question became, if she tended to get to doors before Helena would she have opened them chivalrically? Of course she would. She was still good.

"You paged me because of calcium build up in your showerhead?" Helena asked, her voice rising in pitch incredulously as she moved into the washroom. Once inside the washroom, she stopped dead in her tracks, crossed her arms over her chest and proceeded to stare at the back of Barbara's head, really and truly unimpressed.

Barbara drew her thoughts together and put her game face on. "I thought you'd be interested," she stated as she turned around to face the brunette. She sounded a bit displeased and hurt that Helena wasn't interested. Acting.

"Why?" Helena asked disbelievingly in the same high, exasperated tone of voice she had used moments before.

"You're always saying I should involve you more in the day to day operations of the clock tower," Barbara replied easily as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"I meant letting me play with Delphi every once in while," Helena responded a bit miserably, hating that her words were being used against her. Goddamn treacherous words. "Not calling me over to grout for you," she finished a bit grumpily as she shifted her weight.

"There'll be minimal grouting," Barbara promised trying not to smirk at the not annoyed expression that came across Helena's face at that. She didn't understand how Helena managed to make petulance and surliness adorable, yet there the brunette was again frowning and being cute as could be.

"Couldn't Dinah do this?" Helena asked not bothering to hide the fact that she was whining slightly.

"She could probably do the grouting," Barbara admitted ignoring Helena's 'ha ha' face. "But she's not strong enough to remove the shower head, which is why I called you," she continued promptly taking the wind out of Helena's sails. "Being strapping isn't all adulation and ass-kicking, you know."

"No, I didn't know. I must've missed the 'and you also have to scour stuff' memo," Helena responded nevertheless uncrossing her arms and stepping forward, moving around Barbara so that she could get at the shower.

"Wouldn't surprise me…I've seen your apartment," Barbara muttered softly as Helena brushed by her.

Helena turned around at that and stared at the redhead peevishly. Her apartment was very tasteful. Barbara raised her hands peaceably, her eyes widening slightly as she stopped just short of going 'whoa!'

"Here," Helena said a moment later, handing the showerhead to Barbara before staring at her slightly wet hands cantankerously before finally wiping them on her pants, screwing up her face as she did. The showerhead had actually been on there pretty tightly. "I hope you two are happy together," she continued starting to step out of the shower.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Barbara exclaimed, placing her hand on Helena's lower back to stop her from moving. Her hand just barely missed landing on the brunette's ass as Helena's movement caught her a bit by surprise. She thought to herself very sternly that she had to not think about her hand on Helena's … gluteus maximus. Yes, that was it. Clinical terms were distancing, and distancing was good. "Take a breather Super Fly, you have to put this thing back on," she continued a moment later, removing her hand from Helena's body, and then reaching out for the spray bottle she had placed by the sink before Helena arrived. "Go on," she said waving at the shower bench, "take a load off," she went on as she started spraying the showerhead, whistling softly.

Helena slouched down on the bench morosely for a moment, but a few seconds later Barbara looked up to see and hear the brunette whistling along with her, tapping her foot unconsciously to the old theme song she had been whistling.

"I like Andy Griffith," Helena commented absently, her head resting against the back wall of the shower as Barbara continued with her spritzing. "Not so much the self titled show, but Matlock. Matlock rocked the Casbah," she continued almost thoughtfully. She remembered curling up in her mother's arms watching the show. She usually fell asleep about half way through, but would wake up just in time to see the conclusion. Actually, she wouldn't wake up so much as she would be nudged awake by her mother so that she wouldn't have to spend the next half hour explaining everything she missed to her. "There was no crime that man couldn't solve," she went on as Barbara finished up with her spraying. "Still, in a one on one crime solving grudge match, I'd bet on Mrs. Fletcher. Matlock and Perry Mason both had assistants, but Angela Lansberry did it all on her own. You gotta respect that."

"Fo shizzle?" Barbara asked, perfectly annunciating every syllable as she turned to face Helena, smiling widely when Helena shot her an absolutely horrified look. It agitated Helena in the funniest way when she tried to be 'wit it' and use 'da' slang. She had found that teaching High School was extremely useful that way. Sure, it had taken her weeks of reflecting and consulting with other staff members to figure out what Mike Guerrin meant when he responded to simple instructions with 'fo shizzle,' but she had pieced it together, and gotten a good laugh out of it. She figured on a cosmic scale it all evened out.

Barbara handed the showerhead back over to the brunette. "What about Jim Rockford?" she inquired as Helena took the shiny object out of her hand.

"Are you serious?" Helena asked distastefully, glancing over at Barbara out of the corner of her eye. "Don't talk to me about Jim Rockford," she continued rolling her eyes and making a face before she stood up to reattach the showerhead.

Hesitating for a moment before speaking, Barbara took a deep breath. "We should test it out," she suggested as Helena stepped away from the newly reattached showerhead. "To make sure the problem is solved."

"Really?" Helena asked a bit surprised by the superfluous addition to Barbara's sentence. "I thought maybe you wanted to check and see if it had improved its language scores," she continued sarcastically, arching her eyebrow at the redhead before stepping out of the shower. "I suppose you want me to do this too," she went on already rolling up her sleeves.

Barbara reached out and placed her hand on Helena's arm, her eyes staring unfocused in front of her as she wrestled with herself. The brunette looked over at her questioningly, a bit taken back to see the serious expression on Barbara's face. She considered lightening up the sarcasm. After all she really didn't mind helping out with the showerhead. Sure it was a bit of a bizarre request coming from Barbara since she probably could've rigged up some contraption with bubble gum, licorice and a shoelace to do the whole thing, but she was glad that she was the one the redhead called when she needed help with something, even the small things. She knew how much Barbara hated to seem vulnerable, or be indebted to anyone, and it made her feel honored and touched to know that Barbara trusted her enough to ask for her help when she needed it.

Barbara stared at her for a moment longer, blinking when she realized Helena's eyes were on her, contemplating her. "Thank you," she said finally taking her hand away, smiling weakly as she leaned back in her chair.

Helena watched her contemplatively for a moment longer. "You know, if anybody else had done that, I would've found it really creepy," the brunette commented shaking her head. Barbara sometimes picked the strangest moments to get intense.

After that all was well in the clock tower washroom for a few moments as Helena turned on the water to make sure the showerhead was working properly. However, just as the raven-haired beauty was about to reach for the tap to turn it back off there was a strange rumbling and vibrating in the shower stall. Then without a moments more warning part of the showerhead broke off flying across the stall, allowing a torrent of water to come cascading out of the hole it had once occupied.

"Shit!" Helena yelled jumping back from the sudden onslaught of water, just not fast enough to save her head, and most of her upper body, from getting soaked.

"Ohgod! Helena," Barbara breathed out staring at the stall wearing what she hoped was an expression of absolute horror. Acting? She wasn't so sure. Seeing her plan come to fruition she was genuinely a bit horrified. She hadn't thought so much water could come out of one slightly larger than normal hole. She sighed internally, she should've passed on that game of Uno with Dinah and done the math.

Helena turned and looked at the surprised redhead, then took a deep breath. Muttering a series of curses she stepped back into the stall, immediately getting blasted with jets of hot water. Her hair was falling into her eyes, her clothes were completely plastered to her body, and she couldn't see anything but a wall of water. She crouched down allowing the water to get at what spots it had missed on her back as she blindly reached for the taps. Finally finding them she managed to get them turned the right way and, mercifully, the torrent of water came to a stop.

Barbara watched as Helena lifted her head to look up at her through soaking wet tendrils of hair that were plastered all over her face. The brunette blew out and water came sputtering from her mouth. She looked absolutely miserable.

"Helena," Barbara started empathetically, as the brunette stepped out of the shower. Helena hated getting wet. Most people didn't exactly relish being drenched with their clothes on, but Helena hated it. Being caught in a downpour was one the brunette's biggest peeves, right on the top of her shit list. Barbara was certain it had to do with the feline characteristics the brunette had inherited from her mother, but she knew not to bring that up at … the moment … and … those clothes were really sticking to Helena's body. It was like they were painted on, hugging and accentuating every curve. She could even see the brunette's …

"Towel," Helena mumbled wretchedly, before shaking her head from side to side, and then shaking her whole body, sending tiny droplets of water flying all over the room.

"The fu … ah, what happened?" Dinah asked from the washroom doorway. Everything had been quiet, but then she'd heard a horrible commotion in there and come to check it out. "You're all wet."

"What? Oh my god! No way," Helena shot in Dinah's direction as she snatched the towel Barbara had fetched out of the redhead's hand and brought it up to her face. "Manière d'énoncer baiser péniblement évident," she continued to mutter in an aggravated tone as she began to rub at her hair.

"Right," Dinah drawled looking between the two of them and around the washroom. She had no idea what the last thing Helena said was, but from the look on Barbara's face when she heard the brunette she was fairly certain it was insulting and involved cursing. It was inconsequential anyway she didn't need to understand the words, because she understood the tone just fine. It was Helena's unhappy tone, and Helena's unhappy tone never led to anything good, at least for her. A fact that was doubly true when French accompanied the unhappy tone. It was time to remove herself from the situation. She'd ask Barbara about it later on. "I'm going to leave for hours on end now," she continued looking over at Barbara who she then mouthed 'I'll pray for you' at before ducking out of the room.

"I'll get the hair dryer," Barbara stated once she and Helena were alone again.

Helena glared at her. "You do that."

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

Helena wrapped the edges of the fluffy robe tighter around her body, burrowing into the soft fabric as she drew her legs up underneath her, curling into a little ball on the couch and inhaling deeply. The robe smelt like Barbara. She took another deep breath before sighing softly. She ran a hand through her hair, brushing the unruly strands out of her face. She should've been mad at the redhead, but as she lay quite contentedly curled up on her plush couch, surrounded by the soft, warm material of the redhead's favorite robe, inhaling Barbara unique scent, she just couldn't manage it.

That didn't, however, stop her from looking up at Barbara with some trepidation when she sensed the redhead stop by the side of the couch.

Barbara opened her mouth, but then closed it again upon seeing Helena's expression, instead simply handing the brunette a warm mug of hot chocolate and a bag of marshmallows. She felt like an asshole, and not for the first time reconsidered the wisdom of the method she was employing to test her hypothesis. It wasn't that she didn't think it was a valid, and really effective, method of testing Helena's feelings for her, it was just that she couldn't stand to see the brunette so miserable. Especially knowing that she was the cause for it. However, the experimentation phase was producing some positive results that supported her theory making her anxious to gather enough data to come to a rational conclusion. After all, looking at the grand scheme of things, she'd only be torturing Helena for a small, minuscule amount of time. And she planned on making it up to the brunette anyway. And really having a nice dinner, and getting a little wet wasn't so bad. Also, Helena had plenty of clothes, more than enough clothes, was practically the Emelda Marcos of clothes, so Dinah borrowing one little outfit wasn't the end of the world.

Barbara sighed and frowned slightly. She wondered if Dr. Quinzel was taking on any more patients. Helena raved about the woman, and she was beginning to suspect that she could benefit from the woman's services as well.

Barbara's eyes snapped up as she felt something scratch against her arm. Catching Helena's eyes briefly she then looked down to the see the top of the marshmallow bag brushing against her arm. Smiling a bit confusedly she tilted her head back up looking at Helena questioning.

"You look even more depressed than I do," Helena muttered, nonetheless continuing to tease the bag against Barbara's arm until the redhead reached into it and removed a chewy treat. "Listen, I didn't mean to snap at you back there," she continued tossing her head to the side, vaguely indicating the washroom. "I know it's not like you meant for it to happen."

Barbara paused, the marshmallow resting lightly on her lower lip, suddenly looking very stricken. She then shoved the white blob into her mouth and started chewing slowly. Anything so that she wouldn't have to talk. Helena's words from the banquet came back to her and she became convinced that the game should've been called 'Barbara Gordon, You Suck This Hard,' only she feared how long the list would've become.

"I'm still," Barbara started as she finally swallowed the last bit of her marshmallow. "I know how much you hate getting wet," she continued apologetically looking over to meet Helena's eyes.

Helena stared at her for a moment, her eyes suddenly twinkling, then without saying a word shook her head and chuckled softly.

Barbara rolled her eyes realizing the theme that her words had to have unintentionally sent running through Helena's head – even if she wasn't privy to the sordid details. "Drink your hot chocolate."

"Really it depends …" Helena started still smiling rakishly though she had stopped laughing.

"You should be ashamed of yourself," Barbara interjected as she rolled forward, moving from the side of the couch more towards the middle.

"On exactly how I get …" the brunette went on ignoring Barbara's interruption, her voice turning speculative.

"Gimme those marshmallows," Barbara said, snatching the bag out of the brunette's hands. "They're for good girls," she added starting to reach into the bag as Helena's eyes landed on her.

The brunette snatched the bag back and tossed it onto the coffee table. "We better wait for Dinah then," Helena replied looking at Barbara pointedly.

Barbara stared at her for a moment and then smiled conceding the point. She turned her gaze towards the blank screen of the television set.

"Elimidate?"

"Um, yeah," Helena agreed as if it was the stupidest question she had ever heard.

Part Six

The Next Day …

Barbara entered the dark, smoky main room of the Dark Horse. It was four in the afternoon, and there were only ten people inside. She didn't understand how it was dark and smoky, but it was. It was something she had always found extremely perplexing about bars. Where did the perpetual smoke come from? Did they all have some kind of machine? Were the server's lungs so suffused with it that they started emitting it along with carbon dioxide?

She would've continued to contemplate the oddity, however a few minutes after she had entered, one of the Dark Horse's staff came up to her. She recognized the man, but couldn't for the life of her remember his name. She had probably never found it out. Helena wasn't really big on introductions, or even really learning the names of people herself. 'Hey you' seemed to suit Helena fine in most cases. Barbara had no intention of ever telling Dinah, but for the first few days the three of them had known each other, Helena had constantly referred to the blonde as Diana without a hint of irony.

"Excuse me ma'am, but there's no …"

"It's a care package, for Helena Kyle," Barbara said, cutting the young man off. He had been looking down at the small basket nestled on her lap and was about to tell her in the politest way possible that the Dark Horse didn't have a B.Y.O.F policy.

"Nice," the man commented relaxing slightly and looking at the basket a bit longingly. First Helena managed to get the most convenient apartment known to man, and now she had gorgeous women bringing her baskets of food. How lucky could one fine assed chick get? "She's in the back," he continued. "It's just through …"

"I got it," Barbara said cutting him off again with a smile. "Thanks."

"No problem," he replied. "Hey, if there's any left over, I'm Craig," he called after her, smiling charmingly when she turned around to look at him.

"Gotcha," she responded for lack of something better to say, and then continued on her way to find Helena.

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

Helena watched silently as Barbara spread out a cloth on the table, and then proceeded to carefully remove the items from her basket.

"Oh, shut up," Barbara commented lightly as she continued to unpack her basket, not bothering to look over at Helena. She had felt the brunette's questioning, dubious eyes on her for the past five minutes.

"I didn't say anything," Helena replied moving towards the table, yanking out a chair and dropping down gracefully into it. "But you have to admit, this is a bit … atypical."

"It's not atypical. It's a picnic. Sort of," Barbara responded finally removing the last of the items from the basket and putting it on the floor.

"Yeah, that's kind of the point," Helena returned reaching out for the cover of one of the dishes only to have Barbara slap her hand away. "You've never surprised me with dinner before. Remember that time I slept in and didn't have time for breakfast and called you to bring something over for me? Remember that? You said you hoped I had brought my Altoids," she went on reaching for the cover of something else only to have her hand slapped away again. She looked over at Barbara. "Sorry, I didn't realize this was the dinner of the Sphinx. What's the riddle?"

"First of all, I'd called you three separate times to wake you up for work and you went back to sleep every time …" Barbara started to respond her eyes trained on Helena's hands, ready to pounce and slap them away at a moments notice.

"So I deserved to starve?" Helena questioned interrupting the redhead as she eyed the dishes impatiently.

"Honestly? Yes," Barbara answered without missing a beat.

"Brrr," Helena replied mock shivering. "What's the wine chilled with? Shards of ice chipped from your heart?"

"Keep talking like that and I'm going to bring the basket out again," Barbara shot back easily before smirking a little as she reached for the dish nearest to her. "You're going to feel really bad about making fun of my heart condition when you see what I brought for you," she went on uncovering the dish, watching with a pleased smile as Helena leaned forward to get a better look and inhaled deeply before sighing with pleasure.

The brunette looked up at Barbara once she realized what the other woman had prepared for her. She smiled widely and rubbed her hands together. She couldn't believe Barbara had gone to all of this trouble, but she was immensely pleased, and extremely touched. And she did feel bad about the heart comment, though not bad enough to ruin her appetite.

"If that's soupe à l'Oignon, and these are scallops in champagne sauce, and this is chicken in Riesling, then this must be … compote," she breathed out hopefully reaching for the dish nearest to her, happily being allowed to actually remove the cover this time. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about," she continued excitedly, staring down into the bowl filled with fresh fruits that had been slowly cooked to perfection in a sugar syrup – with liqueur if her nose was to be trusted. It had been one of her favorite desserts as a child when they were still living in Paris. The entire picnic basket was filled with her favorites; it was almost too good to be true. "How did you …"

"I didn't Alfred did," Barbara replied smirking, cutting off Helena's question. "I saw them in the book, they had five stars" she continued seeing Helena gear up to inform her that that wasn't what she had meant. Helena had wanted to know how she knew what some of her favorite childhood foods had been.

"Book?" Helena questioned not following, though that was probably due more to the fact that she was shoveling food onto her plate than anything else.

"Your mother had this recipe book dedicated to you and the dishes were ranked with stars. One star meant you had to be tied down and force fed, and usually consisted of vegetable dishes," Barbara answered smiling. "Five meant if you turned your back on you by the time you turned back you would have eaten the whole thing and been licking your fingers," she went on. "These," she said waving at the dishes on the table. "Were obviously five star."

"Obviously," Helena repeated teasingly. "Pie face," she mumbled around a spoonful of soup.

"What?" Barbara asked amused by the visual image the words produced though not following why Helena had uttered them to begin with.

"The five star recipes usually led to 'pie face'," Helena explained putting her spoon down for a moment. She didn't want to spill any. "It became like an adjective with mom," Helena answered smiling fondly at the memory. "One time I'd banged up my right hand and it was all bandaged, so I couldn't really maneuver with it. We had pie one night while it was all bandaged and I was there digging at it with my left hand mashing it all up and not eating any of it," she continued to relate, her brows drawing together dourly, sounding as frustrated with the memory of it as she must've been at the time. "Mom said she'd feed it to me but she had to check on the laundry first. So, I was all 'fuck that,' or you know at that time probably 'fiddle sticks' or whatever and just leaned forward and started eating it off the plate. When she came back … da da da, pie face!" she went on chancing a look at Barbara who was grinning from ear to ear. "Anyway, after that she'd say things like 'we're not gonna have another pie face incident are we' or 'don't you dare go pie face on me' or 'I feel a pie face coming on,' and so on and so forth," she finished waving her hand a little bit before reaching for her fork.

"So is this a pie face affair?" Barbara asked.

"Most definitely," Helena answered enthusiastically around a mouthful of food. She'd been delayed in her eating by relating that story to Barbara and was trying to make up for lost time. "Fawankwoo."

"You're welcome," Barbara responded laughing lightly, long ago having learned how to decipher Helena's full-mouth mumblings.

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

Helena scratched the back of her neck pensively before tilting her head up to watch Barbara as the redhead finished the last of her meal.

She rubbed her thumb and pinky finger together nervously.

"Leonard's putting this place up for sale," she commented as Barbara's eyes looked over towards her, ready to converse again now that she had finished.

"Really? Why?" Barbara asked her brows coming together surprised. She had been aware of Helena brooding for the last few minutes but she hadn't expected to hear that.

"He got engaged to some guy from Tahoe. He's moving," Helena told her leaning back in her chair, running her finger idly along the edge of the table as she spoke.

"That's nice," Barbara said diplomatically as she watched Helena. There was something about the brunette's posture, something hesitant yet longing. She was holding back something she wanted to say, debating with herself whether she should bring it up. It was typical behavior for the brunette. Helena was so guarded with her emotions, with anything that really mattered to her. She could relate.

"Yeah," the brunette laughed her eyes flickering over towards Barbara before she lapsed into silence again. "I'm gonna buy the bar," she went on a minute later speaking quickly, her eyes wandering around the staff room as she spoke.

Barbara was silent for a moment, regarding the younger woman carefully.

"The only way you could do that is if you …" Barbara began.

"I know," Helena interrupted, not really wanting to hear what she knew she would have to do voiced just yet. Barbara was about to say the only way she could afford to buy the bar was if she used the money from her trust fund, her father's money. "I don't want to move," she added in what she hoped was a light, joking tone a few seconds later.

"It's a big responsibility," Barbara softly replied after a moment, her eyes still trained on Helena.

"I know it," Helena related shifting in her chair, before settling down and focusing her eyes on Barbara. "I can do it." There was no hesitation or doubt in her voice, no questioning. She was telling Barbara with no shadow of a doubt that she could handle it.

"I know it," Barbara replied immediately smiling over at her. Helena had always been exceptionally bright, and more than that was extremely intuitive. She was a quick study, and once something was explained to her or observed by her, it stuck with her. Barbara had never had to teach her a lesson twice. Helena was an un-ambitious, failed waitress, failed sales clerk, failed lawn mower, part-time bartender because that's what she chose to be. Barbara had always believed she was capable of doing whatever she put her mind to, she just never seemed to want to put her mind to anything other than learning how to fight after her mother's death. "Why?"

"It's the American way," Helena responded offhandedly before taking a deep breath. "I'm preparing for my future," she continued a moment later meeting Barbara's eyes though her voice rose at the end making the statement sound more like a question.

Barbara simply looked at her, knowing that there was more Helena wanted to say even if Helena herself didn't know it at the time.

Helena sighed again and let her eyes drift some more.

"I don't know really," the brunette finally started again. "I want to do something, and this is the best idea I've had. And I'm not being flippant," she added quickly seeing Barbara tense and frown slightly out of the corner of her eye. "I mean, who really knows what they want to do anyway?" she continued. "People spend years at perfectly respectable jobs, and perfectly respectable careers only to realize that it's not what they want to do. I want to do something, and right now I want to do this. I'd like to try not being a fuck up for once, and if I happen to become upright citizen, and start a retirement savings plan, what the hell, right?"

"I think it's a brilliant idea," Barbara commented drawing Helena's attention towards her once again. "And you've never been a screw up. Just lazy and unfocused."

"Gee thanks Barbara," Helena immediately piped up glaring at the redhead. "So you don't think I'll run the place into the ground?" she asked a moment later, the slight edge gone from her voice replaced by a hopeful, pleased tone.

"Of course not," Barbara stated reaching across the table and touching the back of Helena's had gently. "You don't want to move," she went on smiling. "You've got a vested interest in the continued success of this place."

Helena lolled her head to the side smiling reluctantly though widely at the redhead's words. "I've gotta get back to work," she stated a moment later, reluctantly pushing her chair back and standing up.

Barbara reached down to pick up her basket to pack things up as Helena moved away from the table and towards the door.

"Barbara," Helena said stopping by the staff room. "This was … good."

"Unlike your grammar," Barbara replied looking over her shoulder. "We'll have to do it again soon," she went on sincerely before Helena could follow her lead and ruin the moment some more with sarcasm.

"Yeah, it'll be my surprise next time. Lunch maybe in the school staff room. We could honor your Irish heritage. We'll have stale potatoes and warm beer," Helena replied opening the door but leaning in against the frame as she spoke.

"Keep that up and you'll find out about more things Irish," Barbara growled threateningly though her eyes twinkled with good humor.

Helena was quiet for a moment just looking at the redhead, then threw up her hands and bowed down theatrically. "I'll see you later." And with that she ducked completely out of the room, leaving Barbara watching after her.

Part Seven

Two Days Later …

Gibson rested his elbows on the bar top and placed his head in his hands sighing dreamily. Helena was standing five meters or so away from the bar dressed in tight, dark, lace-up denim jeans with a tie belt, and form fitting black tank top. She was exquisite, radiant, a shining beacon of light in a cold, dark expanse of humanity.

Gibson!

Gibson jumped immediately almost dropping the phone he had cradled to his ear as the voice on the other end yelled his name.

"She's here," Gibson said into the receiver straightening his stance and clearing his throat a bit. "Breathing fresh air into this stagnant …"

Yeah, yeah Barbara interrupted cutting off Gibson's most recent ode to Helena. She really didn't need to hear it; in fact they disturbed her slightly. How long has she been there?

"About twenty minutes," Gibson replied, clamping down on his immediate desire to compliment Helena in the process of answering the question. Barbara seemed to be unresponsive to his words, but he thought, being so used to Helena's presence in her life, it was probably difficult for her to be away from the brunette, making her a little testy when they were apart. He would respect that. He could imagine her pain, for it was the most exquisite torture for him when Helena was around, because he knew that eventually she would leave.

Darts Barbara breathed out knowingly, relieved with the man's straightforward answer.

Helena was a bit of an exhibitionist. She had a definite showboating streak in her that was constantly frustrated by her nighttime activities as Huntress. The brunette had a myriad of amazing skills and abilities and no way to get recognition for them. She had often complained that at least Barbara had a closet full of trophies and everyone knew she was like a world-class gymnast even if they didn't know she spent her free time saving the citizens of New Gotham from dastardly plans. All of which meant that the brunette had had to find creative ways to show off, and her latest idea had been hustling people at darts at No Man's Land some Wednesday nights. There was a strict 'no powers' policy at the bar, but Helena's training and experience guaranteed that she didn't need her powers to win, and her sporadic visits to the meta bar ensured that she'd have at least a few more weeks before people started catching onto the fact that she was unbeatable and would stop playing with her. It was a pastime that the brunette loved, and one of the few pleasures besides sex, drinking, and kicking ass that she allowed herself.

"I could get her for …" Gibson started to say interrupting Barbara's thoughts.

Ah, no thanks Barbara replied quickly. I'll contact her if anything comes up. Thanks. Bye Gibson and with that she hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair, her eyes scanning over the various Delphi monitors as she did.

All wasn't quiet in New Gotham, but there was nothing that they had to be particularly alarmed about. Mid-week always tended to be slow with people winding down from the previous weeks activities and gearing up for the rest of the week. Barbara was certain that's why Helena had chosen it as her virtual day of rest, so that she would be on the same cycle as the criminals.

Huntress! Barbara called shrilly into the transceiver microphone.

"Shit," she heard Helena exclaim on the other end. She'd probably caused the other woman to miss a shot.

I need you back here now. There's an emergency she continued pretending to ignore Helena's exclamation.

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

Helena quickly exited the elevator, pulling on her duster as she moved, making her way towards Delphi's platform. She wasn't impressed to have her plans for the evening interrupted, but Barbara had sounded pretty anxious over the transceivers. Wednesday nights were usually pretty quiet and she would only make a later sweep, going out around eleven, but if there was one thing she had learned over the years it was that the bad guys didn't adhere to her schedule.

Spotting Barbara hunched over she quickened her step to find the redhead … drinking a cup of coffee and doing a crossword puzzle?

"What's up?" Helena asked ignoring the oddness of the scene in front of her for a moment.

"Oh, you're here," Barbara said distractedly, staring at the crossword for a moment longer before shifting to face Helena. "I thought that maybe it got through but I guess not," she continued taking off her glasses. "I'm running a diagnostic on the system right now, I don't think it's a major problem, probably just the usual junk build up. It's been a while since I …"

"Thought what got through? What are you talking about? And why are you doing a crossword?" Helena interrupted sounding more than a little frustrated.

"I thought that maybe," Barbara started to explain, answering the first of Helena's questions as her eyes drifted back to the crossword. "She played Karl Malden's daughter on 'The Streets of San Francisco'," the redhead breathed out a moment later, faced screwed up in concentration as she chewed on the lid of her pen, leaving her answer to Helena's question unceremoniously abandoned.

Helena stared at Barbara incredulously as the redhead took the tip of her pen and counted out eleven squares across the puzzle. "Hey, ah, if it's not too much trouble do you think you could focus for ten seconds and help me save some people!" Helena finally exclaimed drawing Barbara's eyes back over to her, after watching the redhead begin to tap the tip of her pen in one of the small boxes.

"What? Oh, yeah," Barbara said dropping the pen down onto the table before turning to face Helena. "The emergency, it was a false alarm. I tried to hail you but there was a lot of static build up and I wasn't sure if the signal got through," she continued leaning back in her chair. "I'm sorry to drag you away from your game. I thought … well, it turned out just to be a malfunction at the source."

"A false alarm," Helena sighed settling herself against the side of the redhead's desk, reaching out and picking at her scone. She'd actually gotten herself rather excited about handing out a beating, she was feeling a bit let down.

"'Fraid so," Barbara confirmed picking up her mug, watching as Helena proceeded to eat the rest of her scone almost unconsciously. "Darlene Carr," Barbara declared a second later picking her pen up again. "I knew I knew that one."

Helena turned her head to the side and starred at the redhead disbelievingly again.

"You should go back to No Man's Land. Enjoy the rest of your night," Barbara continued as if she hadn't spoken a moment before.

Helena continued to eye her silently.

"Are you sure? Maybe I should stick around in case …" 'you're tempted to smoke anymore of that crack' Helena's mind filled in though she was interrupted before she could say it. It was probably best that way.

"I'm sure. I'll have the com system back and better than ever in a few more minutes. I can call you if anything comes up. Go and have some fun," Barbara interjected slapping Helena on the thigh before making a shooing motion with her hand.

"' Heat,' song from 'The Pajama Game'." Helena turned her head back to look at Barbara when she heard that, stopping momentarily to watch the redhead who was hunched over her crossword again. "Steam," Barbara then supplied a moment later before sticking her arms out in front of her and making circular motions. Was that the cabbage patch?

Helena scowled, then shook her head and continued towards the elevator. It was probably best she leave. Barbara was beginning to give her the willies.

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

Helena placed a hand over her left eye and turned to smirk at the man beside her. She was actually glad for the earlier interruption. Some of the crowd she'd been playing with earlier had cleared out by the time she got back which meant she got to take advantage of some fresh meat.

"Ready Eddie?" she asked addressing the man beside her.

"Just take the shot," Eddie replied already tiring of Helena's shtick. "I've got some lap dances to buy with your money," he continued looking between Helena with one hand over her eye and the board knowing that it was impossible for her to make the shot.

"I think you might need to make other plans," Helena commented turning towards the board once again before lifting her right hand behind her ear and then flicking it forward, sending the dart careening towards the board where it hit the rectangular green colouring of the top of 20 marker right in the middle. "Guess I'll be getting the lap dances tonight."

Huntress Helena heard in her ear as she reached out her hand to collect her money. Barbara had impeccable timing she would give the redhead that. Every time she just started to enjoy something, Barbara would be there talking into her ear. At least she'd stopped doing that damn crossword. An alarm's been triggered at 1205 Park Street. Head straight there, I'll monitor you from here

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

Helena sighed audibly, her exhalation as peevish as humanly possible as she heard Barbara's voice in her ear once again. The redhead had been calling her almost constantly since the last time she left No Man's Land, and she was really beginning to dread the sound of Barbara's voice.

"What?" she snapped unable to help her tone and not really caring that she couldn't. She was tired of living one of the most exasperating nights in what she was certain had to be all of human history. She'd been wrong before, Barbara hadn't quit with the crossword puzzle; she had just taken a break. And when she got back to it she'd enlisted Helena, completely involuntarily, to help her finish it, leading to such scintillating questions as "Magical device encountered in the first Harry Potter book? 14 letters," and "Who played the sheriff in 'Spaced Invaders'?" Then to top it all off, the last mission Barbara had sent her on had turned out to be nothing more than a dispute at a small bodega involving the proprietors of the store and a couple of kids trying to pass off a forged lottery ticket as the real thing. The storeowner had recognized the hack job for it was and called the kids on it, but they insisted that it was real, and when they refused to leave the store after being asked, the owner made good on a threat and pressed the alarm button. Helena had managed to get the kids to leave by convincing the owner to give them a box of Slim Jims.

New Gotham Park, west side. Just off the pathway leading away from rest station 4

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

Barbara turned around as she heard the elevator doors open and noticed Dinah look over towards the elevator too from her spot on the couch where she had been doing her homework. She quirked an eyebrow at Helena as she saw the stone set of the brunette's face but said nothing as the Huntress moved towards her.

Helena stalked towards Barbara determinedly, her nostrils flaring angrily as she approached, her breath coming out in harsh puffs.

Coming to a stop in front of Barbara she lifted her right hand up to her face and rubbed at her nose agitatedly before dropping it and lifting her other hand to rub at her bottom lip, all the while keeping her eyes on Barbara's almost serene form.

Lifting her index finger up in front of her face trying to control the emotions churning within her, she started tapping her thigh rapidly with the palm of her left hand, before finally pointing her right index finger in Barbara's face and shaking it.

"A cat," Helena said finally her finger moving away from Barbara's face to ball up in fist, which she then rested on her lip. "A fucking cat in a tree!" she exclaimed loudly throwing her hands up in the air completely exasperated, turning around momentarily so that her back was to Barbara. "You," she continued once she had turned back around, that finger back wagging in front of Barbara's face. "Don't talk to me. Just …" she went on pausing when she found herself at a loss for words. "Just fucking don't talk to me," she finally settled on her tone utterly exasperated as she thrust her finger in Barbara's face one last time before stalking back to the elevator and disappearing.

"You didn't?" Dinah asked once Helena had vacated the clock tower.

Barbara sniffed straightening her back. "Being a superhero isn't always about thwarting evil geniuses and engaging in John Woo style kung fu battles," she said looking over towards the blonde.

"But a cat? In a tree?" Dinah asked feeling distinctly like she was in a Mel Brooks movie.

"I don't know why she's so upset. She likes cats," Barbara declared hedging around Dinah's questions. Had she gone too far? She thought the crosswords had actually been kind of fun, but maybe she had gone too far with the cat.

"She also likes chocolate. It doesn't mean you should send her out to hunt eggs on Easter," Dinah pointed out looking at Barbara strangely. The redhead was a bit unorthodox on occasion, but there was usually a method to her madness, some explanation for it that was just unconceivable to herself or Helena at the time. However, sending Helena to rescue a cat from a tree was just bizarre.

"Shouldn't you be calculating the velocity of something?" Barbara asked pointedly looking towards the blonde's textbook.

Dinah sighed. "Yeah," she admitted. "I just wish they'd make the questions more interesting. Like, 'if a cat fell out of a tree every five minutes how long would it take for Helena to kill Barbara?'"

"If you don't quiet down I'm going to come over there and use big, boring words," Barbara threatened with a smile.

"I'll be good," Dinah promised solemnly, dutifully turning back towards her book.

Part Eight

Three days later …

The days following the Cat Gate incident had been rough for all residents of the clock tower. Helena had been sulky, brooding and at times borderline unresponsive. Dinah had been confused, befuddled and otherwise completely without a clue as to what was going on with Barbara, between Barbara and Helena, and really just about anything in general. This made her hesitant, quiet and more than a little awkward. And Barbara, well Barbara had been quiet and introspective, and well as oddly observing, watching Helena a lot but from a distance, giving the brunette her space.

Finally that morning, at the end of a tense and uncomfortable breakfast, Barbara had declared that they were all a little stressed and could use a bit of an escape, and suggested that in the afternoon, they have a movie marathon that would last into the night, barring any interruptions from Delphi. Dinah had enthusiastically agreed, and Helena had glowered for a moment looking between the two of them before shrugging and smiling wanly as if Barbara had said 'lets eat live octopus, it'll be real fun'.

And that was how they found themselves in their current positions. Barbara was seated on one end of the clock towers leather couch, her legs dangling over the edge as Helena occupied the rest of couch, sprawling out on it, her head resting on the arm and her feet resting in Barbara's lap. Dinah was seated in the recliner beside the couch near Helena's end, close enough that she could reach out and slap the brunette's forehead if she had a death wish, and the black and white, classic, criterion version of 'The Killers' was playing on the large screen in front of them.

Helena glanced down towards her feet as an army of cars speed out of the parking lot on screen, ingeniously maneuvering around each other and out of the factory parking lot confusing and eluding the police. Looking down the length of her legs she saw exactly what she expected to see, Barbara lightly massaging her feet. Unconsciously massaging her feet if the intense gaze the redhead was directing towards the television set was any indication. She had to suppress a contented moan as she felt the redhead's thumb stroke along the instep of her left foot, and bit her lip as the digit continued to caress the skin there.

It was extremely relaxing and despite herself Helena found the tension that had been suffusing her body for the past couple of days continue to fade to the point of near non-existence. The fact that Barbara had made Dinah rent one of her favorite movies, and that she had wordlessly drawn Helena's feet up into her lap allowing her to stretch out when she had seen her start to shift uncomfortably on the couch, had done a lot to lessen her crappy mood. But Barbara's hands on her, and the unconscious affection of the touch completely put an end to her surliness.

She shook her head and turned it back towards the screen before either Barbara or Dinah could notice her distraction. She was such a sucker for the redhead. Barbara started playing with her toes and she wiggled back into the seat of the couch some getting more comfortable.

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

Helena sat up, allowing her legs to fall over the couch so that she was in much the same position as Barbara as the movie ended and Dinah got up to change the DVD.

"We should make margaritas," the brunette declared tilting her head back lazily so that it was resting against the back of the couch before turning it so that she was peering at Barbara. Now that the lights were on and her feet were cold and lonely again she felt a bit of the irritation she'd been feeling before come back and wanted to bug Barbara a little bit.

"Ice is in the freezer," Barbara replied turning her head to look at Helena. "I'd offer to help, but you're the professional," she continued smiling and quirking her eyebrow.

Helena observed the redhead for a moment. She really thought she'd object what with it being five o'clock in the afternoon and the kid being present. "You in?" Helena asked warming up to the redhead again. She sighed internally; she was so easy.

"Sure. I love it when you cook," Barbara responded before turning to watch Dinah as the blonde stared seriously at the cases laid out on the coffee, obviously taking her responsibility as DVD selector extremely gravely.

Helena snorted and stood up.

"Don't worry about me. I'm good," Dinah piped up still staring at the DVDs as Helena made her way towards the kitchen.

"Oh, you're still here," was Helena's response. She brought her hand in front of her face to help with her surprised expression.

Dinah rolled her eyes and tilted her head from side to side while making a face before turning back to the DVDs.

Helena continued on her way.

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

Barbara winced slightly as she rolled her shoulders and tilted her head from left to right. Her back was beginning to hurt her and she wished that she had put some more consideration into the movie marathon plan. Perhaps included some pillows in the plan, or hired a masseuse for cinematic breaks.

Letting her eyes drop closed for a moment as she leaned forward to stretch out her back muscles she twitched slightly, her head automatically turning to the side when she felt a hand on her back.

"Didn't quite think this through, did you?" Helena whispered a moment later, scooting a bit closer to Barbara so that her lips were practically resting on the redhead's ears, her hand still resting lightly in the small of Barbara's back. "My little master planner dropped the ball."

Barbara turned away from her and proceeded to stare at the television set again, though the tension Helena could still feel in her back told her that Barbara's back wasn't feeling any better, she was just mad that Helena was making fun of her and she didn't have a come back.

"C'mere," Helena whispered a moment later wrapping her arms around Barbara's waist before dragging the redhead's body into her own.

"What are you …" Barbara started to ask as Helena managed to maneuver them into a reclining position. Before she could finish her question she found herself lying on the couch between Helena's legs, her back pressed up against the brunette's front. "Doing?"

"Taking care of your little problem," Helena responded casually her hands sliding down Barbara's torso to her waist where they easily slide underneath the loose fitting material of the t-shirt the redhead had changed into before the movie watching began.

She felt Barbara intake deeply and saw the redhead start to turn her head to look at her as her hands moved against her bare skin, but before Barbara could utter a word she started to dig her thumbs into the smooth, muscular flesh of the redhead's back, working the tired, tight muscles expertly. Barbara sighed softly once she had begun, and a few minutes later had relaxed fully into her hands, allowing Helena's work to proceed much more easily.

"What next?" Dinah asked popping up out of her recliner like a coked up bunny rabbit as she clapped for the lights to come on.

Turning her head to the side to consult with the older women she had to stop herself from jerking back in surprise when the scene on the couch greeted her. Just how much had she been concentrating on that movie, anyway? Helena was sprawled out on the couch, as per usual, her right leg drawn up, only this time Barbara was laying in between her legs, resting against Helena as if the brunette was a giant pillow. Helena had her arms looped slightly around Barbara's waist and had turned her head so that she was looking at Dinah. Barbara was blinking as if she had just woken and wasn't quite sure what was happening.

"Put in 'Charade'," Helena called out interrupting Dinah's contemplation of what was going on on the couch.

"I wanna watch 'I Am Sam'," Dinah immediately complained. "I'm tired of thrillers. All you watch are thrillers. Try a little tenderness," the blonde continued, though as she considered the position the other two women were in she became aware that Helena was already displaying some tenderness. It was kind of sweet really. She rarely got to see the soft, tender side of the brunette, and she felt her heart warm at the display.

"You'll be trying a little 'five across the eye' if you sass me again," Helena shot back lifting one of her hands from Barbara's mid-section to wave it in the air at Dinah before turning away again.

Dinah's face fell and she stared at Helena viciously. Her heart cooled.

A moment after that Helena felt a small pressure in the center of her forehead as if someone was pressing a finger there and then her tipped back as if that finger had given a mighty push.

She whipped her head around to glare at Dinah immediately. "No power's in the clock tower!" she accused pointing the finger of shame at the blonde.

"No threats of physical violence in the clock tower!" Dinah shot back sticking her tongue out at Helena. "Barbara said so."

"'Barbara said so'," Helena mocked tilting her head from side to side. "If Barbara told you to shave off your hair and cluck like a chicken on Main Street would you do that too?"

"I hardly think that's the same thing," Barbara started to say finally fully awake from the nap she had apparently taken on Helena. "No fighting and no powers, not only save you two hours of patch work, but save the penthouse and the clock tower from needing hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. It's just sensible."

Helena and Dinah exchanged looks after that.

"I wanna watch 'I Am Sam'!"

"'Shanghai Surprise', 'Shanghai Surprise'!" Helena exclaimed in a highly agitated tone, jostling Barbara slightly. "No Sean Penn," she declared.

"I don't know what that is, and I don't care. Movie selection shouldn't be based on her issues," Dinah said pointing at Helena and making a face.

"Did you just disparage me? She disparaged me," Helena said pointing back at Dinah as she looked down towards Barbara who had been turning her head from side to side following the verbal tennis match for support.

"Michelle Pfieffer's in it," Barbara replied to Helena's look deciding to put an end to the children's bickering. It really and truly amazed her how five minutes in Dinah's presence could reduce Helena to behaving like a twelve year old. In fact she had been more mature when she was twelve.

"Really? Okay then," Helena agreed relaxing again into the couch. For some inexplicable reason she just liked Michelle Pfieffer.

"Oh so when Barbara says it …" Dinah began a bit irritably.

"Dinah," Barbara interjected. "Chose your battles," she went on smiling over at the blonde.

"Yeah, yeah," Dinah muttered as she put the DVD in, though she quite happily snuggled back into her afghan when she got back to her recliner a few seconds later.

Part Nine

The Next Night …

Helena walked along the ledge of a fifteen-story building, arms out acrobatically as she spun and jumped occasionally on her way to the other side. Barbara had told them to hold a moment ago because something was coming through on Delphi.

A silent alarm's been tripped in the Westin Hills community Barbara said a moment later causing Helena to stop her routine. Westin Hills was a gated community just on the edge of what were technically New Gotham City, and the Greater New Gotham area – otherwise known as the suburbs. The house belongs to Anderson Brooks, one of New Gotham's leading criminal attorneys. With his client list it's worth checking out she continued the sound of tapping clearly evident to Helena through the transceivers. D. Get on it

Helena who had just hopped off of the ledge to begin her trip to Westin Hills stopped short at that. She and Dinah were running coordinated sweeps on other ends of the city, that was true, but from Dinah's last update she was at least fifteen minutes away from the Westin Hills community. She herself was about thirty minutes away, but she traveled faster than Dinah and could've made the same time as the blonde.

"Don't you think," Helena started to say.

I know it's been a slow night, but I'd like you to stay in the city Barbara piped up cutting Helena off before she could continue. D. Take a left on Madison Ave.

"If this guys cliental is bad enough that we're going after a home alarm, don't you think I should at least run back-up?" Helena asked meaning it, but also wanting to get somewhere where there was at least the possibility of getting some action.

No. Continue along your grid Barbara said her eyes drifting to the side to track Dinah's progress. The truth was, even though an alarm had been tripped, five others had been quite expertly bypassed, and considering the location of the one that was tripped the thieves had probably been in the house for a good five minutes or so before they tripped it. They were professionals, and Barbara doubted very much that unless something went wrong inside of the house that they would still be there when Dinah arrived. The blonde's mission would largely be comprised of hiding in the bushes until the police showed up and using the amplifying wand Barbara had designed to eavesdrop on what Mr. Brooks had to say about what was stolen. If Helena had known the details she probably would've wanted to stay in the city where there was at least the chance of something interesting happening.

"Why?" Helena asked crossly, hopping back onto the ledge nonetheless. "Nobody's out tonight, I don't see what it could hurt to …"

Why? Because … D. is taller Barbara responded interrupting the brunette again, stating the most ridiculous thing that immediately popped into her head.

"What?" Helena ground out, once again paused on the building ledge. That was the most … it didn't even make … what the hell could that possibly have to do with … she was pretty fucking tall herself …

We're losing valuable grid time Barbara commented forcing a note of impatience into her voice. Helena growled angrily in response, and Barbara closed her eyes and took a deep breath at the thrill that ran through her body.

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

Helena paced the clock tower balcony. Back and forth, back and forth, her hands clasped behind her back as her head swung to the side from time to time to glare into the dark interior of the clock tower. The main lights were off, alerting her to the fact that Dinah and Barbara were in bed, the only illumination in the room coming from Delphi's standby lights.

She started for the door.

Barbara had stepped on her last nerve that night. The redhead's behavior had been completely unpredictable and, just fucking annoying for weeks and she was going to put an end it to. She couldn't deal with it anymore. It was jarring every time she saw the woman. She never knew whether to cringe in fear of what Barbara had planned for her next, or whether to be excited in anticipation of what Barbara had planned for her next. Every other meeting gave her a case of severe whiplash. It had gotten to the point where she actually felt panicky at the possibility of having to talk to Barbara, and that was just fucking unacceptable. Especially because she couldn't seem to stay away from the redhead even if it filled her with stomach burning anxiety.

No, she and Barbara were going to have a talk, and she was going to force her to start acting normal again. She wanted her Barbara back, she thought to herself a bit sulkily. She wanted her Barbara back now!

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

Barbara grabbed her headboard and dragged herself into an upright position as she heard the door to her bedroom open. She could feel someone in the room and could vaguely make out a dark shade making it's way towards her.

She wasn't alarmed because she knew it was Helena, however, before she could address the brunette, Helena was by the side of her bed and had crawled onto it, throwing one of her legs over Barbara's so that she was straddling her waist, effectively pinning her down.

"Helena," Barbara said turning her right palm upward, her tone and motions basically adding 'what the hell?' to the end of her statement.

Helena responded to Barbara's statement by slamming her right palm against the headboard a few inches away from where Barbara's head rested. Barbara turned her head to look at Helena's hand, staring at it for a moment before slowly turning her head back around so that she was looking at the brunette's face again.

"Stop it," Helena demanded staring into Barbara's eyes unblinkingly, her tone calm but firm.

Barbara stared at her for a moment before dipping her head down and licking her lips. Finally she tilted her head back up, and looking at Helena through her lashes asked, "Stop what?" The question came out a bit husky and she immediately cleared her throat.

Her eyes, however, dropped down again after she spoke and ran across Helena's upper body in way that could only be described as rakishly.

She shifted a bit uncomfortably aware of the way it made Helena's body rub against her waist, and the way that in turn affected her. There was something about the fierceness of Helena's motions and the determination in her voice as she lorded over her, straddling her in her own bed that was getting to her.

She shifted again and averted her eyes.

Helena immediately noticed Barbara's unease. The redhead was now trying not to look her in the eyes and was shifting almost constantly. Barbara wasn't a shifter. Something was making her nervous, making her uncomfortable. She focused her full attention on the redhead and quickly noticed that Barbara's breathing was far shallower than usual, her heart was beating faster than normal, a slight flush was beginning to cover her skin, and when she managed to shift her head enough to capture a glimpse of Barbara's eyes she noticed that her pupils had dilated leaving her eyes little more than black orbs with a ring of green.

There was only one thing she could think of that would explain all of the physical signs she was witnessing. Barbara was aroused, and becoming more so every passing second. Aroused by her.

Helena's mind suddenly drifted back and began to replay certain incidents from the past few weeks. She remembered the look Barbara had been giving her when she opened her eyes after the redhead had finished with her leg, and she remembered the banquet where Barbara had quite impulsively, and thus uncharacteristically, leaned forward and licked her chin. She remembered Barbara bringing her dinner, and rubbing her feet. She remembered numerous innuendo-laden conversations they had had. Barbara had always been able to hold her own with double entendres and innuendo, but she seemed to like to space it out so that she wouldn't encourage Helena or something. But lately, it was as if every conversation they had were full of them.

Barbara had been flirting with her, she realized. Barbara wanted her. Could that have been why she was acting so strangely?

Helena shifted closer to Barbara, moving so that they were practically nose-to-nose.

Barbara breathed in deeply, shuddering slightly as her eyes met Helena's.

"I think you know what," Helena breathed out, actually quite impressed with herself that she was able to pick up the previous conversation thread after what seemed like hours of silent contemplation.

Barbara's eyes focused on Helena's lips. "Um … I don't?" she replied shakily.

Helena studied her intently for a long moment. "Barbara Gordon," she finally husked, delighting in the slight shiver that ran through Barbara's body. "You're lying. I can …smell it," she continued smiling rakishly.

Barbara stiffened at that and her eyes dropped down to look between their bodies tellingly.

Helena laughed. "Not that," she stated drawing Barbara's eyes back up to her. "Although," she continued meditatively starting to move down Barbara's body.

"Don't," Barbara said catching her arm, suddenly feeling embarrassed. "We were talking." With the way her body was responding to Helena's smallest touch she didn't want the brunette anywhere down there.

Helena laughed again at that and looked back up into Barbara's face with a smile. It was strange how a few minutes could hold such radically different motions. When she had come into the room she had been angry, frustrated and annoyed almost beyond belief. And now, now she was none of those things.

"No, I was talking. You were sputtering … occasionally," was how she responded however.

Barbara, having gotten her bodies responses to Helena somewhat under control, met the brunette's eyes and was clearly unimpressed with her reply, even though it was true, actually probably because it was true.

Helena drew her head back a bit after that so that she could look at Barbara's face. "Are you pouting?" she asked sounding inordinately amused. "Awww," she continued reaching out for Barbara's cheek.

The redhead grabbed her hand, and held it firmly.

Helena looked at her hand, feeling Barbara's strong fingers wrapped around her wrist. She started to become increasingly aware of the feel of Barbara between her legs, and the warmth that was emanating from the other woman's body. She inhaled taking in Barbara's scent, savoring it. She shifted her pelvis jerking slightly against Barbara's hips. Her nostrils flared and she leaned in towards Barbara again, making the space between them almost non-existent.

Helena then placed her hand behind Barbara's neck, her thumb resting on the redheads jaw bone by her ear, as she stared at her. Barbara watched fascinated as she saw Helena's eyes morph. She had seen the result of the morphing before, but had never seen the actual process. It was in a way incredibly erotic and Barbara tilted her head into Helena's hand.

Helena darted forward at that and captured Barbara's lips with her own. The kiss was hungry, desperate and rough, and as Helena possessed Barbara's lips she shoved her body forward, all the while maintaining contact with the redhead's lips as she pressed Barbara up against her headboard, trapping her against it as she ravished her mouth.

Barbara ran her hand up Helena's side, and then up her neck to tangle in the hair at the back of her head, holding her place as the brunette ground herself into her hips as they kissed. She scratched the brunette's scalp lightly with her nails and heard Helena moan into her mouth. The grinding slowed after that and Helena began to kiss her more gently, sucking her bottom lip into her mouth, biting it softly, before releasing her lips and burying her face in Barbara's neck.

Helena let her hand slide around from Barbara's neck a little bit so that she could reach under the redhead's neck and tilted her head back, and held it there so that she would have better access to the redhead's neck. She kissed, sucked and scrapped her teeth along the soft, sensitive skin, causing Barbara to tug at the hair she still held in her hand with pleasure.

Barbara began to tug at the coarse material of Helena's leather jacket with her free hand and soon dropped the hand that had taken up residence in Helena's hair to help her with the removal process. Drawing the material off of Helena's shoulders, the brunette was kind enough spread her arms so that Barbara could take the jacket down her arms, while Helena continued to kiss her neck and collarbone. Finally getting the jacket down around Helena's wrists, Barbara stopped suddenly. Helena, feeling the delay, removed her lips from Barbara's skin to look up into Barbara's now dark jade eyes. Barbara dropped her eyes to Helena's ensnared wrists and drew the two sides of the jacket together trapping the brunette's hands, using the jacket like makeshift handcuffs. Helena stared at her, frowning slightly. Barbara jerked the jacket causing Helena's back to straighten and flipped the brunette off of her and over onto her back. She leaned over the brunette and watched as her feral eyes met her own. Helena bit her bottom lip for a second and then her lips curved upwards wickedly.

Barbara smiled back at her, her lips forming an equally salacious smile. She then placed her right hand on Helena's hip, her eyes still holding the brunette's, and roughly drew her hand up the brunette's stomach and over her breast. She felt Helena buck slightly and smiled wider down at her. Helena's hands were trapped behind her back, still entangled in her jacket, limiting the movements she could make.

She leaned down and brought their lips crashing together, her hand still on Helena's chest, as she claimed the brunette's mouth.

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

The Morning After …

Barbara looked down at the flow chart resting in her hands and sighed sadly shaking her head. It was all ruined now. She had still had two more tests to carry out. All of that planning and ethical moralizing was for nothing. All of her data was now contaminated. And she had colour coded it and everything. It was all very sad.

Barbara looked up from her flow chart as she heard the door to the washroom close, watching as Helena sauntered across the room to the bed, which she then crawled onto making her way over to where Barbara was propped up against the headboard.

She then proceeded lean over the redhead's stomach where she placed a series of butterfly kisses on the patch of skin left available by the small tank top Barbara had pulled on sometime when she was in the washroom. Slowly kissing her way up Barbara's torso, she ducked her head and upper body under Barbara's arms, which had been holding a piece of paper, and continued on her way, ignoring the fact that for a while there she was getting more fabric than skin.

"What's that?" Helena asked finally, turning onto her side still in the circle of Barbara's arms, laying her head down to rest on the redhead's shoulder.

"Flow chart," Barbara replied a bit distractedly, removing one of her hands from Helena's waist to move up and brush some hair out of the brunette's eyes. Her hair was completely disheveled, sticking out in every direction imaginable, while also plastering itself to certain parts of Helena's head. Helena first thing in the morning was officially the cutest thing she had ever seen. She just wanted to hug her and kiss her and never let her go. Maybe get a miniature-sized version she could carry around in her purse and take out when she was lonely.

"What flow is it charting?" Helena asked softly tilting her head to the side so she could press a kiss to Barbara's neck.

Barbara twitched slightly and slapped Helena's side. "That tickles," she complained, but she made no move to stop the brunette when she burrowed into her neck even further placing a rapid series of kisses over every available inch of skin.

"The mating habits of incorrigible twenty-three year old meta-human females named Helena," Barbara continued, answering Helena's question once the brunette had pulled back, finally deciding to leave her neck alone.

"That's a pretty narrow field," Helena commented smirking, turning her attention to the flow chart for the first time since re-entering the bed.

"But a fascinating one," Barbara informed her, suddenly aware of what the flow chart represented and debating with herself whether or not she wanted to tell Helena all of the sordid details. It was sure to be something they'd laugh and laugh about years down the road, and tell at dinner parties and so on. It was the interim that made her hesitate. Helena had come into her room the night before to rip her a new asshole about what she was doing to compile that flow chart, and she wondered if the brunette would see the humor in it now that they had kissed and made up.

"What kind of interesting factoids have you collected?" Helena asked turning her head up to look at Barbara who she had felt tense slightly. She'd thought the redhead was joking at first, but she was beginning to wonder if the flow chart really was about her.

"Helena's, you may be surprised to learn, are biters," Barbara began looking down into the brunette's face. "No, really," she continued smirking. "So, I've been toying with the nickname Nippy, because it's accurate and suggestive. Helena's also enjoy the double entendres."

"Hmmm," Helena breathed out thoughtfully, watching Barbara inquisitively. "Tell me more."

"Helena's," Barbara began after taking a deep, solidifying breath, "enjoy French-cut panties and Irish massages, don't give a flying fuck about calcium build-up, enjoy ice-cream being licked from various parts of their bodies." She paused there to smile salaciously before continuing. "Are wonderful impromptu dinner companions, are perfectly happy to let cats find their own ways out of trees, and are able to, quite inadvertently, make me fall madly in love with them …which, as a side note, seems to mean that I begin acting like a complete crack pot."

Helena, who had been leaning on her elbow so that she could peer down at Barbara as she spoke, dropped her head down to rest on Barbara's shoulder after the redhead finished talking, and silently remained in the position for while, leaving Barbara to contemplate nothing but the sound of their breathing.

Finally Helena shifted slightly, reaching out and plucking the flow chart that had been lightly clasped in Barbara's hands out of them.

"What exactly were you testing for?" the brunette finally asked staring at the piece of paper. "Did you find what you were looking for?" Her tone was inscrutable.

Barbara felt her heart sink. It was never good when Helena's tone was inscrutable.

"I did," Barbara replied turning onto her side a little so that she was facing Helena. "I was looking for this," she continued reaching out to take the brunette's hand into her own. "I had to know."

"If I would be here in the morning?" Helena asked in the same dull tone, refusing to meet Barbara's eyes though she allowed her hand to remain in the older woman's.

"No. If you would be here at all," Barbara replied immediately, sighing her last few words as she dropped her eyes away from Helena's face as well. "If you wanted," she continued haltingly, "to be with me. The way I wanted to be with you," she finished averting her gaze sounding almost mortified at having admitted what she just had. She didn't talk about her emotions, really ever. She kind of feared them and tried to avoid them whenever possible. But she didn't want to do that with Helena anymore, she wouldn't, despite how much more comfortable it would've been.

"So, you … decided to employ the scientific method. Introduce stimuli and chart my responses until you discovered penicillin," Helena responded pushing upwards so that she was resting her weight on her right hand as she looked down at Barbara. "Was last night … and much of this morning, a variable, or did your flow chart help you predict it?"

"Helena," Barbara said a bit pleadingly, finally looking over towards the brunette again.

"You know how very fond I am of tests," Helena continued ignoring Barbara. "Is this one of them?" she asked shaking the flow chart that was in her other hand. "I see two columns that are still blank. Is the plan to show me this, and then maybe in a couple of days set up funny accident involving a midget, an empty barrel and a banana peel?"

"This was … the chart, it doesn't …" Barbara tried again.

"I've got some more data for you input. Use magenta. Helena's like magenta," the brunette cut in once again interrupting Barbara.

The younger woman then leaned forward, softly, lovingly brushing her lips against Barbara's, her free hand coming to rest on the side of the redhead's face as she leaned in towards her body, deepening the kiss.

"I thought you were mad," Barbara breathed out relieved, her eyes fluttering open when Helena finally pulled back.

"I am," Helena responded seriously, holding Barbara's eyes. "I don't like it," she continued looking back at the flow chart, which she had allowed to drop onto the blanket when she raised her hand while kissing Barbara. "And it's kind of creepy," she went on picking up the piece of paper once more and flinging it off of the bed. "Thinking of you thinking up torturous shit to put me through and colour coding your findings. That's really kind of twisted," she continued shaking her head a little. "But I love you, twisted and creepy as you may be. And you can write that down," Helena finished smiling a bit as she stroked Barbara's cheek with her thumb.

"So, we're … okay?" Barbara asked relaxing into Helena's touch as the tension that been running through her body once their talk had turned to the chart began to drain away. Even though she'd been called twisted and creepy she was feeling better about the situation.

"Oh no," Helena replied shaking her head. "You've got a lot of making things up to me to do. I've been scarred and … stuff. I'm going to need lots of personal attention. Personal attention and breakfasts in bed. Yeah," she continued nodding her head solemnly. "And by personal attention I mean …"

Barbara lips attaching to hers silenced her before she could finish her sentence, but it was clear that Barbara knew exactly what she meant when the older woman's hand snuck under the blanket and began to trail its way up Helena's torso.

"Who would've thought I'd end up being the subtle one," Helena sighed as Barbara's hand continued its upward path, stopping only when it reached the underside of her breast, which the redhead then cupped.

"I don't think that 'personal attention' thing was very subtle," Barbara pointed out shifting closer to Helena, leaning over the brunette a little as she continued to caress her.

"That's okay, because that's not what I was talking about," Helena replied arching into Barbara's touch, her eyes fluttering closed as her lips parted and a soft moan escaped her throat.

"What are you talking about?" Barbara asked, more than a little distracted as she leaned her head down to taste the skin of Helena's neck, nipping the skin there as she pushed closer to the brunette so that she was covering the right side of her body.

Helena's hand found the back of Barbara's neck and she drew it up tangling it in the redhead's hair as Barbara continued to kiss her neck. "You're not the only one who had plans," she stated huskily drawing Barbara's head up towards her. "You're just the only one who had plans about as subtle as a battering ram," she whispered into Barbara's ear before tugging Barbara's head towards her, bringing their lips together heatedly.

"You had plans?" Barbara asked looking down at Helena curiously when they finally parted.

"Yeah, Operation: Suitable Life Partner," Helena replied placing her hands on Barbara's hips, rubbing her thumbs across the smooth, creamy skin there. "It included subtle missions like telling you about my day, accommodating your whims, making responsible plans for the future, and not throwing things when my clothes were pimped out," she continued flipping Barbara onto her back as she spoke so that she was leaning over the redhead. "Basically establishing that long-term compatibility, conversation skills, and similar pastimes are part of my dating criteria," she finished, her lips curving up into a small, teasing, but also pointed smile as she repeated the words Barbara had spoken to her so many weeks ago.

"Why would you do that?" Barbara asked softly as she reached up to trace Helena's lips with her thumb.

"So that you would see I'd make a suitable life partner," Helena replied slowly as if she were talking to a small child or a particularly stupid adult. She thought the name of the operation pretty much summed it up.

"And are you?" Barbara asked smirking up at the younger woman.

"I'd say we're well on our way to finding out," Helena responded, her eyes serious as she looked down at Barbara for a long moment. As she spoke, Barbara drew her hand around her so that it came to rest in the small of her back, and proceeded to push lightly encouraging Helena to move closer to her.

A huge smile broke out across Helena's face. She bit her bottom lip bashfully and turned her head to the side.

Barbara smiled up at her enjoying the display for a moment as Helena's skin flushed red, and then brought her free hand around to Helena's face turning her head back around so that they were looking at each other once more. Helena still had her lip captured between her teeth. Barbara propped herself up leaning forward and into the brunette, her eyes locked on Helena's mouth.

She closed the last of the distance between them. Those lips were hers.

The End