Voices Airy

Author: Janine

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Helena, Barbara, Dinah, Batman, and Catwoman etc. They are the property of DC comics and I suppose the WB network and the creators of Smallville and Tollin/Robbins (geez, this is beginning to feel like an Oscar speech) etcetera, etcetera. I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.

Pairing: B/H

Rating: R

Summary: Curiosity gets the better of Barbara, and when she's got with her hand in the cookie jar, she not only has to deal with the consequences of her actions, but also face herself.

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

"What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!"
----Wordsworth

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

Clock Tower

Kitchen

7:00 pm

Barbara glanced up from the sheet of paper that was sitting in front of her, and looked across the table towards Helena who was sitting hunched over, chewing on the end of a pen as she stared with concentration down at a crossword puzzle. The brunette had her left leg drawn up onto the chair so that her knee was pointing towards the ceiling, and was leaning heavy on her right elbow to support the position. It would've looked awkward and uncomfortable on anyone else but Helena, always graceful, made it look like she was lounging.

"I thought you had work to do," Helena said causing Barbara to blink and refocus on her, not looking up from the puzzle as she spoke.

"I do," Barbara replied looking at Helena for a moment longer noticing the small upwards curve of her lips, before looking down at the sheet of paper in front of her once again. "That's what I've been doing," she added as she picked up her own pen once again.

"No, you've been staring at me," Helena replied, her eyes still down on the crossword puzzle. "Don't front, I can tell," she went on her smirk turning into a genuine smile as she glanced up and over at Barbara for a minute.

"Glancing at and staring aren't the same thing, Helena," Barbara responded fixing her eyes on the brunette knowing she was being toyed with. Honestly she didn't mind, she found it quite impossible to resist Helena when she was in one of her playful, mischievous moods, but that didn't mean she was going to admit it. "You're distracting me."

"Distracting you?" Helena asked incredulously looking directly into Barbara's eyes as she spoke so that she could show the redhead how very unconvinced she was of that statement. "I haven't said a word in fifteen minutes. Explain to me, how sitting here quietly like a good girl and exercising my mind," she continued tapping the crossword in front of her for emphasis, "distracts you?"

"Because you're not a good girl, you never sit quietly, and the last time you did a crossword was in 8th grade," Barbara responded refusing to react to Helena's scandalized tone and expression, adorable as they were. "It's bizarre … and it's distracting me."

Helena regarded her for a few seconds after that and then rested her pen down before placing her elbow on the table and propping her chin in her waiting hand, looking at Barbara thoughtfully. "Those media assignments must be pretty fascinating," she finally commented, shaking her head. Then letting her head fall out of her hand indolently she reached for the crossword puzzle and folded it up before reaching for her jacket and tucking it into the pocket. "I'll get out of your hair."

"I didn't mean you had to go," Barbara said watching as the brunette unfolded herself and stood up, her eyes held steady on Helena as she stretched working out the kinks that had formed from being stationary for so long. "I was just trying to hint that I might stare some more. Really, it's a good kind of shock. I mean, at least I know now that you can still read," Barbara continued realizing that she was staring again and not wanting to get caught.

"Funny," Helena said shooting her a quick look that let Barbara know that she was being sarcastic in case her tone hadn't been indication enough. "As heart warming a plea for my continued company as that was, I really must away," she continued making a dramatic hand motion to accompany the word 'away' before smiling over at Barbara. "We're hosting a party in the back room and I said I'd help set up. I don't know why I said that, but I'm told I did."

Barbara smirked at that as she rested her pen on the table, turning to watch Helena as she made her way towards the elevator; waving at the brunette once she'd gotten in giving her a proper send off.

Turning back around once the doors shut, Barbara banged the edge of the table with her elbow making it shake slightly, causing her pen to roll onto the floor. Rubbing her elbow the redhead made a face and bent over to retrieve her pen being careful not to hit her head on the way down. Pen firmly in hand once again Barbara began to straighten up, her eyes wandering in front of her to the area where Helena had been seated and spotted what looked like an open book. Finding that strange she straightened back up and moved over to the other side of the table to see what it could've been.

Bending down once again she drew the book up into her lap, her eyes lazily scanning over one of the open pages. She was surprised to see that the page she was looking at and the next one were filled with Helena's handwriting. Flipping through the pages of the small journal like book quickly she found more of the same and returned to the page she had found it open at, moving her right hand to the leather bound back of the book intending to close it when her brain processed some of the words that were on the page. "She was a cat/I am a jumper/What I wish is to fly…." She stared at the words for a moment, and then her eyes drifted down, reading what came next.

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

Clouds drifting through my fingers like smoke … were I to walk on air. Free. The wind blows everywhere.

So should I be.

But not.

For now only as far as I can leap.

Barbara remembered going out onto the balcony one night and finding Helena standing there in the dark, silent and still like the statues the young woman was so fond of, as she read the words. It had been windy out and Helena's hair had been blowing all around her, about her face, wild, unruly and yet majestic. She had been staring down at her feet broodingly almost glaring at them it had seemed to Barbara at the time.

She'd turned as she heard Barbara approach and had sighed crossly before bringing a hand up to her face to draw her hair out of her eyes. Once her hair had been smoothed back she had turned her head one last time to look out at the city, her expression darkly intense, part irritated and part longing before turning to walk back into the clock-tower.

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

I've been engaged in a contemplation of my hands.

My hands are small, delicate even. Long, tapered, elegant. I should play the piano … in fact I think maybe I did once. In another lifetime.

My hands are … well they are innocent. Pale. Deceptive.

Soft skin masks hardness, destruction painted pink. If it's pretty nobody will notice … until they leave streaks and bruises. Paint you in black and blue.

My hands are small, and yet … they could break you in two.

Barbara was used to the feel of those hands on her skin. It felt strange to think about it that way, perhaps a bit too suggestive, a bit too intimate, but it was intimate and it was true. Barbara was more used to the feel of Helena's hands on her skin than any other … than any lover, she admitted to herself, her brows furrowing slightly. She trusted those hands as much as she trusted her own. They were strong, sure, delicate, and gentle. She'd watched them run up and down her legs, pressing, brushing, kneading, trailing and wondered what it would be like to be able feel them on her. She wondered if the would've felt like they looked? Would the hidden strength in those fingers be palpable, would she be able to feel some sort of kinetic energy passing from Helena to herself as they moved along her skin?

She would've wondered at how much time she had spent pondering Helena's hands, but she thought that it was rather impossible not to notice them since Helena drew attention to them constantly. Or perhaps, she acknowledged, Helena just drew her attention to them. The brunette had this habit of flexing and wiggling her fingers constantly, and sometimes even seemed to get distracted by them, staring down at them as if she had never seen them before, turning her hands around back to palm, back to palm as if she were trying to get a reading on them, as if she were trying to figure out what they wanted from her and what exactly would be the best way to get them off her case about it.

That thought drew a smile to Barbara's face.

Helena sometimes seemed awed by her hands, mystified by them and afraid of them, of the power they were manifestations of and of the capacity for destruction as well as defense that came with it.

But Barbara trusted those hands on her more than any other, even if Helena didn't.

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

Is there a point to this? Why the fuck am I even writing this down?

It's fucking artificial is what it is. This isn't me. You hear that? This isn't me. Contemplating the fucking grass, hearing the wind whistle through my ears listening to see if it's talking to me. This is bullshit. What I'm writing is bullshit. Sitting here is bullshit. Working on my penmanship. That's all this is. That's all it'll accomplish … a bunch of ravings. But pretty. They'll look real pretty. Practice makes perfect after all.

Helena's cursive writing had always been pretty. She didn't need practice then and certainly didn't currently to make it so, Barbara mused. It was a quality that was innate to Helena that made it so … appealing. Barbara had always found it a little amazing how she could manage to make it slanting, looped and crisp at the same time, giving it the appearance of being rushed and dawdling all at once. Barbara shook her head at the thought, even Helena's handwriting was contradictory, problematic, confounding. Even her handwriting was enigmatic … and beautiful.

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

The sun slowly lowers behind the trees, filling the sky with gentle orange light, as if the sky itself was burning.

Two women face each other. One dark. One … not so dark. The contrast, well it doesn't really matter, it's enough to know that it's all very poetic and striking.

They stare deeply into each other's eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul after all. All is revealed. Ah, sweet love.

They rush into each other arms, wrap themselves around each other, they're happy and smother each other in kisses.

It's very beautiful. And romantic. Happy … I like it that way

I should put a lense over my heart and shoot my life

… chucka chucka chucka, rewind … rinse, repeat

Ah ha. This is this and that is that. How tidy and comprehendible.

This is where the music would swell.

Where's that sunset?

Posturing, Helena was always posturing. Barbara supposed that they all did it … do it, those of them in the life. In fact she could remember some real gems coming out of her mouth. They always seemed like a good idea at the time, always seemed strangely appropriate in the moment as you stood facing an adversary, your eyes narrowed, and your lips pursed ready to say something … menacing? Quippy? Menacingly quippy, that was the ticket she supposed.

She liked to think, really couldn't help but think that Helena knew better. That Helena knew it wasn't appropriate at all or natural but that she did it anyway. The proof was in her tone. She knew but she postured because that's what needs to be done. The difference between Helena and the rest, including herself, was that she did it ironically. "I am the weapon" indeed. Perfect … or perfectly ridiculous?

Barbara thought that she would've meant it.

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

I stand in the middle of the floor

I face a large window

There is no curtain

Sunlight streams through

A large, luminous, shaft of light

Pure, radiant

…warm?

I don't know.

I can't feel it. It doesn't reach me.

The air shimmers, projecting outwards from me

Shaking, wheezing

I cannot feel the light. It does not reach me.

The light, the warmth, they bend around me

Refract

I am repugnant to it

It defies its very nature to avoid me

I stand in the middle of the floor facing a large window with no curtain while sunlight streams through in a large luminous shaft of light.

I stand in the dark

Barbara's hand moved to her lip where her index finger rubbed the soft skin there roughly as a wary sigh forced its way out of her.

Sometimes Helena reminded her so much of Bruce and not in a good way. She respected Bruce and looked up to him, he was her mentor and friend but that didn't mean that she was blind to less laudable aspects of his personality. He was always alone, always by himself in most of the ways that mattered. You could be standing next to Bruce, touching him, but it never really meant that you were with him. To Barbara it had always seemed that he lived in another world, one that nobody else could fully see or understand. There had never been anyone to share the game with him the way she and Dick had. That was the kind of man Bruce was, and it had fascinated but also concerned her. She could see aspects of that in Helena, the way the brunette sometimes seemed to drift away immersing herself in the shadows.

Barbara knew that Helena felt that she compared her to her father, and in some ways that was true, but she also knew that they were two very different people and in many ways could never fairly be compared to each other. And she was happy for that because she knew that Helena could never operate like Bruce, because she wasn't built like Bruce. She liked the shadows, but Helena wasn't built to be alone.

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

Milk. Skim.

Bread

Tropicana (Pulp Free)

Coffee. 2

Pop tarts

Red Bull!

Bacon.

Barbara found herself chuckling though she wasn't sure why. It was bizarre, or maybe not. Helena had that effect on her and always had, the ability to make her laugh even when she didn't want to, when she didn't think she should. Helena could say the most impossibly inappropriate things and make them seem cute. She was inexplicably charming. And so apparently were her grocery lists.

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

I will be like a rock!

The rock of Gibraltar

I am split open to easily

my insides spill out and spread around me

cling to me like a soft paste

Too weak, too malleable

A disembodied heart

Poked and prodded

Bleeding all over myself

An un-rock

The light cracks me open

I break all over the place

scrambled

Barbara shivered lightly as she recalled memories of the feel of Helena's tears on her neck, warm breath tickling her as it wafted across, Helena's nose scraping along her skin.

She shifted in her chair uncomfortably.

There was, and still remained, so much there, too much for Helena, and often times for her as well. It amazed, and continued to amaze Barbara how it was possible to feel so utterly and completely useless and so unequivocally needed.

She'd never just been able to … let go the way Helena could, and she found it beautiful and frightening at the same time, the power of emotion. They defied control, reason, logic, science, all of the things Barbara knew, understood, and was comfortable with.

She knew that Helena thought that it was strong to be stolid, to be unmoving – like herself … and Bruce – but Barbara knew that water flows and shifts and changes, that it lives and under the right conditions that there was nothing stronger than water. Mutability was real power, it was survival, and in a very real way that was eternity. It was a power she knew she would never completely master, that her rigidity would keep out of her reach. But Helena was different. She didn't break. She grew.

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

Today I … fucking did what I pretty much do everyday.

Today I was an asshole.

Gave the finger to a fuckwit that cut me off in traffic

Didn't hold the elevator open even though I saw you coming. Sorry.

Resented the world for not giving me what I wanted.

Had very satisfying daydreams about ripping his head off and playing Calvinball with it.

Really, really enjoyed number four

Didn't feel bad about four and five

Today I wasn't an asshole.

Tipped generously. Munificently if you will.

Saved an orphan puppy.

Read to the blind

Wasn't impatient with an old lady at cross walk

Amendment – Today I was an asshole Part II:

- Lied about saving an orphan puppy and reading to the blind. Only thought about it. Maybe would've done the puppy thing if I could've found one. But really was quite gentlemanly with the old lady.

Barbara blinked as she read that, her eyebrows scrunching together in thought. She was sure that they'd actually had a conversation about that. She didn't read to the blind? Shocking.

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

I was looking at this blank page and felt like I should write something. So I'm writing this. Not feeling particularly angsty or sarcastic today. Barbara thinks I'm coming down with something. That says a lot about one of us. I'm pretty sure it's me. I'm not coming down with anything though. I must've slept well. Yeah, let's go with that. God, I get so bored sometimes. I've actually gotten used to writing in this piece of shit.

Barbara rubbed the back of her neck slowly re-reading the fourth sentence over and over again; pretty sure it said something about both of us. In fact it probably says even more than that, but she wasn't entirely sure that's a place she wanted to go. She remembered that day, she hadn't been being ironic, she had truly thought that Helena might've been getting sick. Helena was always so much more docile when she was sick. She was usually on the cusp of content when she was sick, strange as it was, though when she considered how much Helena loved being pampered and that she pretty much had Alfred and herself at her every beck and call when she was under the weather the thought became less strange.

The idea that she immediately jumped to that conclusion troubled her slightly though, and when the thought 'She slept well I slept badly' came to her she decided to go with it.

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

I had a dream last night where I …

Crawled up into waiting arms

Soft, warm, strong … mine

They wrapped around me, tender and loving

A bandage of love

Reverse osmosis, scent and sweat seeping in

Life rising up and down under my ear tickling me

I won't scratch

Really it is cool beneath me

Around me

Inside of me

No arms

The distant, mocking caress of air

The scent, the sweat is my own

I bandage my love.

Barbara closed her eyes and leaned her head back, telling herself to take deep calming breathes. Her heart was thundering in her chest and it was alarming her slightly. 'The scent, the sweat is my own'. She felt … squeezed. It was uncomfortable and she didn't understand how it came upon her so suddenly and with such totality.

She thought that she must have felt it, Helena's words. She thought that she must have momentarily felt those word in as whole and complete a way as Helena must have felt writing them down.

But she wasn't built that way and it overloaded her circuitry. She couldn't really bare it, and she expected that if she were to look she'd find a lion cowering behind her desk.

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

She doesn't understand! I already am! I'm more them than they realize. More so. Better. The newest version. My mask is one of flesh and blood, veins pulse beneath it, bone and cartilage. It is all the world sees. All I see.

I try to slip my hand underneath to feel my face, but not when I'm looking. I can't feel it when I'm looking.

I wear a mask. She can't see me. I know she can't because if she could she wouldn't …she wouldn't pretend she couldn't? Would she? She wouldn't intentionally … no … of course not.

She loves me.

Barbara sighed to herself, running an agitated hand through her hair, she did understand she just refused to accept it. She didn't want it to be true and so she would fight it. She would fight Helena about it. A mask was something meant to be taken off and put away when it wasn't needed anymore. The trouble began when there was no mask, no difference, and no separation. Helena had always had trouble grasping the concept of a secret identity.

She pinched the bridge of her nose warily … worriedly. 'I try to slip my hand underneath' … try …

Barbara shook her head, tired and confused, her mind latching onto another part of the stanza. Pretend what? What was she pretending? What was she missing? But she paused again as she thought those things, feeling that she was getting ahead of herself. There was no reason to think that she was the 'she' Helena was writing about after all.

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

Maybe I should just hump her leg.

Barbara stared blankly at the page after reading that, her heart thundering in her chest and blood rushing through her veins. She didn't even know what to begin feeling about that, or since she was obviously feeling something, she didn't know where to begin analyzing what it was she was feeling. It was so … she decided to just move things along.

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

I'm giving some serious thought to getting a dog. Sacriledge! I know. I want something that will jump and bite ballons. I want something that needs me. I'm feeling very … alone. Is it wrong to get a dog because of that? Is it like having a child because I could never sing even though I loved broadway? Maybe I should get a plant. I'd probably just kill it. Maybe I shouldn't get a dog.

She let out a small sigh and bit the tip of her finger thoughtfully. It was fascinating. Had Helena always had this obsession with dogs? The Kyle's had always used to have a cat around, sometimes more than one, but never a dog. Selina's penthouse was like a hostel for stray felines. Had Helena always had some secret longing for a dog, or was this some strange new turn of mind? Barbara didn't think she was going to be able to answer that question with the information available to her at that time.

She did think however, that Helena probably would've been good with a plant, and with a dog. She was sure Helena thought of herself as irresponsible, but couldn't really fathom why. Sure, it was true that Helena could be irresponsible, but when she was it was a conscious choice, not something innate. Helena made decisions not to care. After all, Barbara knew that she was far more trouble than a cactus or a puppy and Helena had taken care of her and handled her just fine.

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

I was looking through an old magazine earlier and I can't get it out of my head.

What was up with Meg Ryan's hair … for those THREE years?

Barbara shook her head, a smile coming to her face. So random, it was kind of adorable.

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

A hill where green grass grows.

It's raining

There was a beaten pathway that is now a river of mud

A slippery slope

I stare down from the top. Contemplating …

…should I get my ass dirty? Would it really be that bad? It's raining on me anyway, I'm already wet, would a little dirt really make a difference?

It's hard

Trying to hold my footing

Every drop makes the ground under my feet slide a little

Would I miss my high horse?

A slippery slope … a natural slip-and-slide

Sometimes I want to get my ass dirty

Sometimes I want to slide

Barbara saw that, the struggle, to give in, to let go. She'd spent nights awake staring into the darkness, tossing and turning, agonizing over it, over Helena, over herself. There was a wild streak in Helena something untamable, longing to be free, to run. She was so much like her mother that way, so much like both of them, opposites, not quite polar, but still quite contrary. They couldn't live together and sometimes she wondered what it did to Helena to have them warring inside of her with no possibility of escape. She wondered if she'd done Helena any good by putting her in a position where the extreme natures of both were often at hand, demanding her to chose one at one moment and the other at another. There are choices in life that were hard enough to make and being in the life certainly didn't make them any easier.

She struggled with the knowledge that not everyone was like her, that some people had a choice in the matter and that just maybe she had taken away Helena's.

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

God he's dumb! She's a fucking moron too! They're both fucking morons. I hate them. I fart in their general direction! I want to kill them. They can go fuck themselves. Probably fuck each other. Fuck me! I need to hit something …

Reese?

Barbara rubbed her temples, she wasn't sure if they were dating. She sighed, upset with herself. How could she not know?

She looked down at the page again. If they were dating and Reese was cheating on Helena, Barbara realized that she was going to be forced to beat him to death.

Were they dating?

Jesus, Helena could be cryptic sometimes.

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

I'm looking through this thing and some narrative structure would be nice. I haven't even dated this shit. With a fucking billionaire as a father and a lawyer as a mother you'd think some sort of book keeping or organizational skills would be in my genes. Apparently fucking not though.

It's not like anybody's gonna be reading it, anyway I guess, like anyone will care. I sure as shit don't.

Barbara rubbed her head agitatedly and looked up away from the book, staring out into the darkening clock-tower. She sighed, shouldn't have been reading the journal … but she knew that when she started. She sighed again and moved to flip the journal closed with a decisive flick of her wrist.

Her thumb was stuck between the pages however. The journal didn't close.

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

Met this Russian chick. Long legs. Legs that went all the way up. Smooth. Tall, cool glass of lemonade as they say. Tanned. Very nice. My tongue marked the spot.

Her hair was chestnut …I was burning on my open fire. Zing! I'm double entrée-ing all over the place.

Drank absinthe and fucked.

Good times.

Finally I was alone. Drank some more. Mind went a mite tizzy around that time.

Fucked myself, hallucinating about raggedy dolls and baby powder. Whee!

'I shouldn't be reading this, I shouldn't be reading this, I should not be reading this!' Barbara chanted to herself. Baby powder? Where did she meet these people, and how does anyone find absinthe in New Gotham? Leave it to Helena. God, she wished she hadn't have read that, but that's what you get she supposed.

She took a deep breath, she needed to slow down … she needed to … she needed to breathe! She needed to stop thinking about the beginning of the last line. With her hair cut the way it was Helena permanently looked like she'd just been … 'don't go there, it won't take you any place good' Barbara thought to herself before her brain added, 'well actually' …

She really needed to stop reading.

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

"You used to be so sweet."

- Well, fuck you lady! You're ugly and you dress funny.

Vintage Helena. She seconded the motion. Helena was still sweet, it was all still there you just had to suck a little harder to get to the nugget at the center. Barbara sighed and rubbed her forehead that analogy could be taken all sorts of wrong ways and she sighed again, 'legs that go all the way up'.

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

If I were your woman/

I would be faithful and true/

I would put mints on your pillow and tell you I love you/

I would draw you a bath, and sing songs to you/

I would whisper in your ear, and make sweeeeeeet love to you/

Chorus

If I were your woman … blah, blah, blah/

I'm not so what does it matter/

And there it was again, the wall, tall, brick and impenetrable. 'Fuck that, I don't give a shit about this, what's the goddamn point'. But Barbara knew better, Helena wanted to, for lack of a better phrase, fuck, she gave a shit, and she always had a point. She wanted to take her by the shoulders and say in an earnest and pleading tone, 'Don't stop, don't give up, in, whatever it may be. Sing the song.'

But that was easy for Barbara to say since she never took her own advice anyway. But really, that wasn't the point of it, since everyone wanted something better for those they loved, wanted to help them avoid the mistakes they'd made even if they couldn't follow their own advice. 'Do as I say not as I do', don't follow me just listen to me. Don't be like me. Run, run away … be contrary, spite me.

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

I want to settle down,but the only people who'll have me are the ones I don't want.

Yeah, I'm takin' to you! Is to settle down to settle? Settle to settle down?

She'd be disappointed. I'd be disappointed. At least misery is honest.

So to settle down isn't to settle, Barbara thought. Which meant one should settle down not settle … which was all well and good, but … but, but what Barbara, she asked herself. But it might require a spine … you might have to feel those scary things and take that good advice and change, and flow and grow. She pinched the bridge of her nose, settling was easier.

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

This whole thing is terribly dramatic. I'm terribly dramatic. I must have been a bed wetter.

Barbara wished she could make faces into the mirror more often.

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

I trace my tongue along my lip even as I write.

It's a coopery taste, tangy and all mine.

Blood.

I bit my lip earlier, chewed on it and gnawed on it until I messed it all up and tangy, warm, coopery blood dripped into my mouth.

The pleasure and the pain of it all. The pleasure that brought the pain.

She's so beautiful that it hurts me.

Now I bleed for real, I can taste that pain in my mouth, I can feel it throb and sting.

Finally it shows

I would paint her mouth with it if I could. Make a mark. Not her as mine but me as hers

She would feel and taste my love. It would linger on her lips.

Evidence

That I would bleed for her.

That I do everyday

Barbara placed her hand over the page blocking it. She couldn't … she needed to stop reading. It made her feel all of these things, made her mind spin and if she could feel her footing these days it would only be so that she could lose it. It was too Helena, too much, too raw, too everything that Helena was and she was not. It was too red, too meaty … too winter, too … much.

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

Baby powder, I love the smell of baby power. I've only smelt it on one adult before.

When I smell it I see it dusted on strong hands, coating them like a film, sprinkled on stretched leather, pasted against damp flesh. For mature audiences only.

I stood in that room for an hour just now … sniffing …scenting.

There's baby powder in my veins. One day it'll clog my heart.

Cholesterowder

Barbara closed her eyes, 'Oh sweet …'

Sometimes I think about moving to Mexico and buying a little place. It'd be by the water, close enough to be considered civilized and far enough to be anti-social. I'd start drinking tequila at noon, I'd fish all day …or quilt. In the evening I'd walk through the sand kicking up dust, I'd strip naked and howl at the moon.

I'd do it too, if I had my number one Seniorita. Hell, I probably wouldn't even drink the tequila … with such a well to tap.

The redhead stared in front of her blankly. She knew that she'd been known to be a little slow on the uptake when it came to personal matters and would even admit that from time to time … was that the elevator?

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

"Why's it so dark in here? You can't seriously be worried about the electricity bill," Helena commented lightly as she swept into the main part of the clock tower, watching Barbara's back as the redhead turned her head quickly to the side before looking away from her and dropping her eyes back into her lap.

"I'm glad you stopped by, I was going to call you actually. I mean it's nothing serious, it's just that you …forgot this … here," Barbara said her finger running across the rough black material of the journal that lay in her lap before turning her chair to face Helena as the brunette came to a stop just in front of her.

"Forgot wh…" Helena started, the words halting as she spotted the object resting in Barbara's lap.

Barbara held the small book out to Helena, who keeping her eyes trained on redhead's slowly reached out to take out, drawing it into her chest and crossing her arms over it protectively once it was back in her possession.

"Fuck," Helena bit out savagely, tossing the journal onto the desk a bit roughly before bringing her hand up her head to tug on her hair. She knew Barbara had read it, she could see it in her eyes, that nameless web of emotions that came with learning too much too soon. "It's some stupid idea of Quinzel's, I didn't even want to do it! Some shit that's supposed to help me get in touch with my feelings and save Fantasia from destruction or something."

"I …" Barbara started seeing Helena begin to gear down a little, her shoulders hunching dejectedly as her hand fell down to her side from where it had been slashing through air as she spoke.

"Read it," Helena interjected unhappily looking over at the redhead momentarily before turning her head away. "Always so curious," she muttered a few seconds later, still refusing to meet Barbara's gaze as she wandered off to the side where she then rested herself against the side of one of the desks.

"I'm sorry," Barbara began.

"Are you?" Helena asked a bit harshly, interrupting Barbara once again.

"I'm sorry for invading your privacy. I shouldn't have done that, and I won't excuse it by saying I couldn't help myself, or any of the other things people say when they're trying to weasel their way out of their weasely ways," Barbara answered straightening in her chair, much like someone preparing to face a firing squad, speaking directly to Helena's person though the brunette steadfastly refused to look at her. "It was open on the floor, I'd read the first few lines on the page as I picked it up without even realizing … it was beautiful. I keep reading … I knew I shouldn't have but … I wanted to see you." She would've continued, commented on how hard it was to read Helena sometimes, to know what she was thinking, what she was feeling, that she was desperate to be let inside. But she had no room to speak and she knew it. When it came down to it she was even worse at expressing herself than Helena. She had worked herself into a position that half the time she didn't even know what to express.

"And?" Helena asked pushing off of the desk, moving again, this time over to where she had thrown the journal. She picked it up carefully, almost reverently then moved back over to where she had been leaning before. She placed the hand that loosely clasped the journal behind her back, and then looked up at Barbara before hopping on the desk and sitting on it.

"It was a collage of thoughts, confusing, confounding, inconsistent, longing and sardonic. And … it was dark and flippant, oddly endearing, slightly disconcerting, sad, lonely, tender, and hopeless, yet in all cases passionate," Barbara responded knowing even as she spoke that what she was saying wasn't the answer to the question that Helena had asked.

"That was an excellent book review, I'm sure it'll fly off the shelves, I'll have to leave a spot open in my day planner for when Oprah calls," Helena replied finally looking over at Barbara who was now doing the avoiding. "Let me put it another way. So?"

"So," Barbara hedged, still trying to grapple and get a handle on all that she had read, feeling a little overwhelmed and panicked. "You want to sleep with me," is what she settled on. On some level she'd known almost from the moment she started reading that she was the mysterious woman at the crux of many of Helena's writing, but she would've had to think about things that she wasn't prepared to deal with if she acknowledged that. However, the baby powder bit before Helena had returned had left her with little choice but to acknowledge what she already knew.

Helena laughed, it was a strange sound not quite certain what it wanted to be, not amused but not unkind, something caught between the two. "You must not have read very carefully."

"I thought," Barbara started suddenly wondering what the hell she had thought. There had been nothing in the writing that was unquestionable, no names, no irrefutable evidence, only her assumptions based on rambling clues, and disjointed musing. But she had been certain that it was … "You mentioned 'she' … a lot, it sounded … in some cases like …" she stopped speaking before she could say that it sounded like herself, and make the situation even more awkward and embarrassing. Perhaps she had just wanted it to be herself that was constantly in Helena's mind, in her heart, but if that were the case it would mean that … no, it was a reasonable assumption, there was no need to bring her subconscious into it. It had been a reasonable but wrong assumption, that was all, it had no bearing on …

"Oh, you're right about that," Helena interjected sparing Barbara from her musings. "I was writing about you," she continued hopping off of the desk, the infernal journal being left behind to cool in the absence of her body. "What I meant was that if all you got from everything that I wrote in there was that I want to fuck you, you're not nearly as smart as everyone says you are."

"I didn't," Barbara began quickly before realizing she had no idea what was going to follow that prompting her to sigh. "That's not what I meant to say. You've just put me on the spot, I mean I've had a grand total of ten minutes to try and absorb everything that … it's a bit difficult to …"

"Difficult?" Helena asked incredulously, laughing a bit darkly. "It's difficult for you, is it? Well it's fucking difficult for me too Barbara, I'm the one that just had my personal thoughts riffled through. So you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little less than sympathetic to how difficult this is for you."

"I…"

"Goddammit Barbara! What were you … what the hell did you think you were …" she stopped and brought her hand up to her face to rub at her eyes. "You weren't supposed to see that. We weren't supposed to be having this conversation. Because I sure as shit never needed to hear everything I feel for you boiled down to 'you want to sleep with me' only to have it followed by what'll no doubt be a sweet and sensitive version of 'too bad so sad'."

"Helena," Barbara tried again reaching out for the brunette only to meet air when Helena took a step to the side.

"You know what, you just … take some time to ruminate, and absorb this difficult situation because lord knows I didn't mean to put you on the spot. Here, take this," Helena said tossing the accursed journal at Barbara. "You found it so fascinating, keep it. I sure as hell don't need it anymore."

Barbara watched Helena stalk towards the elevator feeling a paralysis that had nothing to do with her shooting.

"I couldn't breathe," Barbara called out a bit desperately finally getting her vocal cords to work as Helena was about to step into the elevator. She wasn't sure what she meant by that, but was thankful that she was able to get it past her lips since it stopped Helena from moving away from her. It didn't cause the brunette to skip on back to her, but she stopped moving away, and she'd take that. "Please don't go."

"I can't be here now. With you knowing what you know," Helena breathed out in a pained, ragged tone of voice though loud enough that Barbara would be able to hear in the mostly silent clock tower. She seemed shrunken, as if she had curled in on herself and she sounded exhausted, like she had been walking for days without water, sleep or shelter.

"Even if I feel …" Barbara started, moving towards the elevator as she spoke.

"How do you feel?" Helena asked turning around to face the redhead when Barbara stopped speaking for a moment too long.

"Don't go," Barbara said, her tone slightly pleading.

Helena held still for a moment, her back ramrod straight as time seemed to slow down between them and the silence in the room became uncomfortably pronounced. Then she took a step towards the elevator, continuing her escape.

"Helena," Barbara called out again, her voice choked. "Please!" she went on her voice rising in pitch again with desperation. "Don't go … I … we need to talk. It's …"

Helena stepped into the elevator and turned around flinging her back against the wall opposite the door.

"There's nothing more for me to say," she said before turning her head to the side away from Barbara as the elevator doors slid shut.

Barbara looked down at the leather book resting in her lap and then over at the closed elevator doors before moving her eyes back to the book again. She sighed deeply and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before opening them again. It didn't help, her thoughts remained jumbled making her brain of no use whatsoever in interpreting and assuaging the deep feeling of despair, foreboding and dread that had begun to settle down on her as she watched Helena avert her gaze from her as the elevators closed. She felt that things had gone terribly wrong and had a sick feeling in her stomach about what it meant. She didn't know exactly how or why, but she knew that in the span of ten minutes she had managed to change things between her and Helena considerably, perhaps irreconcilably. She also knew that she had no idea what to do about it.

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

The Next Morning …

Clock Tower

Kitchen

7:15 am

Dinah watched silently as Barbara gazed into her mug and stirred her tea absently, just as she had been doing since Dinah had entered the kitchen. In fact, Barbara's acknowledgement of her arrival had been so non-existent that Dinah wasn't sure if she had been greeted at all or if it had been a figment of her imagination. She sighed as she leaned back in her chair and prepared to find out what was going on. She had gotten in late from Gabby's the night before, only to find that Barbara had already gone to bed. It was strange, but she had figured that even Barbara couldn't stay up until 4 am every night and had written it off as the woman getting a good night's sleep. But now, she realized that it was a sign of a problem. Straightening her back she considered never leaving the clock tower again since there always seemed to be a problem when she wasn't there to mediate between the two other women. Sometimes she wondered how they had managed to make it through the previous seven years without her.

"Where's Helena?" she asked deciding to bite the bullet and end the silence that blanketed the room.

"I'd imagine she's at home," Barbara replied dully as she turned the page of the newspaper listlessly. She hadn't even read anything on the previous page, or the page before that, she'd simply been starring at them until the print and pictures started to blur together painfully in her mind causing her to flip to another page.

"But she's not," Dinah started looking around confused before Barbara's meaning hit her and she felt a bit foolish. "Right, you mean her apartment. I sometimes forget she has one," the blonde continued smirking winsomely. Jokes about the amount of time Helena spent at the clock tower were always good for a laugh.

"She needs her space," Barbara replied staring down at the black and white markings before her, before sighing and taking off her glasses.

"Well, yeah," Dinah agreed more out of feeling of necessity to respond to Barbara's somewhat bizarre response than a need to assure the redhead that she was totally on board with the idea that Helena needed room to roam, and graze, and mate. "Of course. I just meant that she's usually here for meals. It's just weird that she's not here … because there's food."

"She's not here for every meal," Barbara commented turning her attention to Dinah for the first time since the blonde had entered the room. Dinah looked down at what was left of her pancakes before shrugging and muttering, "true". Barbara watched her for a moment and sighed, it wasn't Dinah's fault that she was an idiot, and she didn't want the blonde worrying about anything. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then opened them again and forced some energy into her voice.

"They had a big party over at the bar last night, she was probably there late and not completely sober by the end of night. She's probably just sleeping it off, I'm sure she'll be by later," Barbara said smiling over at Dinah encouragingly though she was fairly certain that Helena wouldn't be by later, or around at all except for sweeps for a while. The thought almost caused her smile to falter, but years of practicing hiding her emotions allowed her to maintain it.

"I didn't think Helena got hangovers. What with the supped up metabolism and all that," Dinah responded looking over at Barbara, pleased to have gotten an actual response out of the older woman. She'd been worried about Barbara's low mood, thinking that Helena's absence had something to do with it, but Barbara looked more tired than depressed at the moment so she wasn't sure what to make of things. She might have just had a rough night.

"No," Barbara said shaking her head, reaching for the coffee pot. "You're right, she doesn't, at least not that I know of. Still, she's usually a little bit lethargic after a night of debauchery and shenanigans," she continued adding some sugar into her cup. "I kind of wish she did though," the redhead added shaking her head a bit. "Anything that would've made those rebellious teenage years less interesting would've been fine by me."

Dinah smirked, she'd heard bits and pieces of a lot of things that led her to believe that it would have been a relief to Barbara if she'd been able to describe what Helena was as merely a handful. Not that the brunette was much better at the present time as far as she could tell, she thought with a smirk.

"So you two are cool?" Dinah asked hoping for nonchalance as she filled up her glass with some more orange juice.

"Why wouldn't we be?" Barbara asked quirking an eyebrow at the blonde, her lips curving up in what she hoped was a teasing smile. It felt a bit like a sneer to her, but she was fairly certain that was just her mood.

"I don't know," Dinah said looking down feeling a bit silly for worrying now. "It's just that usually when Helena doesn't show up it's because she did something and you're mad at her."

"Well don't worry," Barbara said looking back down at the paper, her expression falling once her face was obscured from Dinah's view. "Helena didn't do anything."

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

The Next Night …

The Dark Horse Bar

Roof

12:00 am

Helena lifted her leg resting it on the ledge of the Dark Horse's roof before lifting up her other foot, crossing them at the ankle. She sighed deeply and tipped her head back, rocking the lawn chair she was seated on back onto its back legs, hearing it creak slightly under the added pressure and only then leaning forward once again. She looked forward, over the ledge of the building, to the left of her feet.

There it was, the clock tower. She had a perfect view of the face of the clock from where she sat. She hadn't realized when she started working at the Dark Horse that the place was within line of site of the clock-tower, but one night when she just needed some fresh air after a shift she had gone up onto the roof and had seen it there, shining like a beacon in the night. When she'd gone back down to the bar she immediately began to harass Leonard about letting her rent the empty loft above the bar, the idea of being able to watch over Barbara even when she wasn't physically there appealing to her greatly.

She reached down over the arm of the chair, picking up a handful of the pebbles that covered the roof. She began chucking them at the red brick of the side of the ledge, as she pondered that the view she once loved she now hated.

When she ran out of pebbles her gaze drifted back to the clock tower, and she released a longing sigh. Despite what had happened the night before there was still an intense desire in her to go there. She reached down for more pebbles, and began throwing them again, more forcefully this time as her mind turned to events she had been trying to shut out of her head all day.

Her legs twitched with the desire to stand up, to run, to leap over there, but she wouldn't. She was going to stay exactly where she was, she was certain of that. She was too angry to go over there, too hurt and defensive, and yet still too full of love. Sitting where she was, blocks away from Barbara and the clock tower, cloaked in darkness she felt raw. Her skin felt painfully sensitive to the cool air of the nights breeze, as if she should find it red and welted if she were to look down at it. And yet, despite that, despite the almost painful level of exposure she felt, as if her skin had been scraped from her body leaving her bones and tissues visible to anyone who cared to look, she felt an odd lightness and giddiness at her naked state that excited her somewhat.

Because she was free of it. She had never been good at keeping things to herself, at pretending not to feel what she was feeling. That was one of the greatest gifts her mother had given her, the ability to be herself without fear of reprisal. As a child she had been fearless, never afraid to speak her mind or take a risk. In fact that was how she had meet Barbara, wondering around the YMCA one afternoon after school not quite ready to go home. She had peaked into one of the gymnasiums that were usually reserved as training rooms for local athletes, surprised to find it unlocked when occupied. Barbara had been practicing one of her routines in there, and Helena had slipped in to watch. Afterwards she had approached Barbara, and declared after a brief introduction, in all her eleven-year-old wisdom that the redhead showed "some promise". Barbara had found that amusing instead of insulting and asked with a smile if Helena wanted to give it a try. She had and she did and ended up failing rather miserably just avoiding braining herself. She had shrugged and then looked back over at Barbara, placing her thumb and index finger close together before acknowledging, "maybe a little bit more than some". Most kids would never have gone up to someone Barbara's age and spoken to them so forwardly, especially when they shouldn't even have been in the room, but she was unconcerned. The thought of being tentative had never even occurred to her.

But she was not a child anymore. She knew concern, and tentativeness and fear now. She learned them one fiery night in New Gotham seven years before. And she had been afraid to reveal her feelings to Barbara, afraid of rejection, afraid of appearing foolish and young. Quinzel had seen that fear, and told her to write it down, that through feeling and thought she could overcome her fear, possess it through verbalization. And in a way, she was right. It had helped to write it down, not just her feelings for Barbara, but everything. It allowed her to admit things without admitting them. It allowed her fear to masquerade as bravery.

But now it was out, her feelings were out there, and despite the anger and betrayal and vulnerability she was struggling with, it was also as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. She didn't have to hide what she was feeling anymore and there was a sort of freedom in that she supposed, but it was limited freedom, because she was still scared of what the discovery would yield.

She tugged at her hair irritably. She didn't know what she was feeling. At one moment she hated Barbara. The next she loved her more than air, more than shoes, more than anything. One moment she felt trapped by the fact that her feelings were now known, the next she felt free. One moment she wanted to run to the clock tower, the next she considered never going back. One moment she was hopeful, the next almost paralyzed with fear.

It almost felt to her as if she were in negative space.

She stood up suddenly, knocking the chair back as her legs swung down and under her before propelling herself to the side of the building. She leaned forward, resting her elbows and the cool cement, staring down at the street below and then back over at the clock, as a wispy, airy voice tickling the back of her mind.

/ I'm Drifting through negative space/a frown on my lack of a face/attempting to hear
with a tenuous ear/what nobody says in this place/I strike an impossible pose/then rest my non-head/on my shadowy bed/and when I awake, I doze/

The airy voice she heard saying the words in her mind was Barbara's. She realized that they were words from a poem Barbara had read to her a few months back, wanting Helena's input on whether or not she should put it on her syllabus for the term. Poetry was the only unit teenagers tended to hate more than Shakespeare, which made the selection of the material for the unit extremely important, and Barbara wanted to break up the unit with something a bit more fun.

/ I toss an ephemeral ball/against an impalpable wall.
It bounces and lands/in my vanishing hands---/it's hard to keep track of it all.

I'd like to be positive, but/I'm stuck in a negative rut.
I laugh when I'm sad/when I'm angry, I'm glad/whatever I open, I shut.

I lose when I win/going out coming in--/it's eerie in negative space/

Helena shook her head as tears began to sting her eyes before turning around and sagging against the ledge until she was seated on the roof, her knees drawn up in front of her protectively. It was a fucking children's poem! Barbara had read it out of a book called "Pizza the Size of the Sun" that had a cartoon dog barking at a giant pizza in the sky on the cover. What the fuck was she crying about!

She rubbed at her eyes tiredly. It was all so fucking ridiculous. A poem intended for 8th graders was reducing her to tears, she longed for a woman she couldn't stand at the moment, she needed to talk to Barbara, but the thought of her voice drove her crazy, she was glad Barbara had read the journal and she was inconsolable that Barbara had read the journal, and she was feeling alternately nihilistic and optimistic about the whole situation.

She didn't know what to do.

She stood up, her back to the ledge, to the clock tower. She wasn't going to say or do anything, she couldn't. Her words were already out; all she could do was wait.

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

Two Days Later

Clock Tower

Delphi Operational Platform

10:15 pm

Alfred watched as Barbara glanced towards the elevator for what seemed to be the thousandth time that night with a sigh. Her head then returned to the screen in front of her for a few moments before turning to look out onto the balcony, only to return to the screen once again. She'd been following the same pattern all night long, tirelessly, one, two, three, and back again.

He braced his hands on the railing and shook his head as he looked down at her. Whatever was the matter he was sure it had to do with Miss Helena. Barbara had a tendency to be overly serious at times; even back in her Batgirl days he had sometimes found her brooding over documentation or surveillance footage at a level that rivaled Master Bruce. However, this was different. She was concerned, but she was also upset. Very upset, and the only person he had seen who was able to effect Barbara in such a way was the young woman who had been absent from the clock-tower for the past forty-eight hours.

He sighed once more, wondering what had happened between the two of them this time before heading for the stairs.

Barbara took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose as she caught herself looking towards the elevator once again. She rubbed her temple tiredly and looked back at the screen in front of her, squinting at it before closing her eyes, the blurring caused by the lack of her glasses making her head hurt. Not that it would have done her any good if she was wearing them since she hadn't managed to get anything on her agenda accomplished.

All she could concentrate on was Helena, even though she was trying to think about everything but the brunette.

She breathed in deeply before slowly letting the air back out. She braced her hand on the edge of the desk and sighed. She felt Helena's absence so acutely that it was causing her a kind of physical pain, and she had to fight the urge to turn towards the balcony once again.

She turned her gaze towards the hallway off to her right, the hallway that led to her bedroom, where Helena's journal was laying on her night-side table. Despite the headache that it had caused she hadn't been able to part with it, and repeatedly broke the promises she had made to herself not to read it anymore.

She had to admit that she was as intoxicated by the feelings that were stirred up inside of her as she was scared and irritated by them. The things she felt when she read those words, the swelling of emotion in her chest when she even thought about Helena over the past few days, were so beautiful and invigorating. She felt a powerful longing, and tenderness for the brunette when she was alone with the book that warmed her. However, the reaction that her body was having to those thoughts and words as of late would not let her write them off as merely platonic affection. No, despite the protests of her brain, her body was making it quite clear that she wanted Helena in ways that were decidedly more than friendly, and it was that that was giving her pause.

They were so close; she already felt so much for the brunette that it made it hard for her to figure out what she was feeling beyond physical attraction. She knew that she loved Helena, of that there was no doubt. She was closer to the young woman than anybody else in the world, and had always enjoyed a unique connection with her, that left them almost like Siamese twins who were joined at the heart, creating a matchless bond of love. But from what Helena had said, and how she had reacted Barbara realized that some time ago Helena's love for her had changed, and grown into something else completely without her knowledge. And she was having to face the fact that now her feelings for Helena had changed as well, the brunette had forced her into growing when she read the journal. What she didn't know was what it meant. Unlike Helena, she didn't have a name for what she was feeling at the present time; she didn't know what she was feeling beyond the fact that it was different from what she was feeling before. And there in lay her problem.

"Is there anything I can get for you Miss, you look tired," Alfred asked causing Barbara to jerk back, startled. She hadn't heard him approach.

"What?" she asked automatically, blinking up at the older gentleman for a moment before his words registered with her. "No … thank you, Alfred. I'm fine," she said addressing his question, knowing even as she spoke that he wasn't going to let her strange behavior go uncommented on. He was worse than her father that way, although she supposed that had a lot to do with the fact that he was just around more. Jim only had limited opportunities to nag her, whereas the clock-tower was Alfred's oyster.

"Yes, I can see that," Alfred commented in that knowing tone of his as he gazed over at her keenly. Barbara sighed again, she knew that she probably looked like ten miles of bad road and he wasn't going to believe anything that came out of her mouth unless it was accompanied by quivering lips and sobs. "Miss Helena hasn't been by today has she?" Alfred went on ignoring Barbara's weary sigh.

"You know she hasn't," Barbara replied tiredly. She hated it when people asked questions they already knew the answer to, simply for the purpose of forcing the other person to state something they were both painfully aware of. It was dirty and underhanded trick, and it was a favorite of Alfred's that had always worked particularly well on everyone.

"Will you be expecting her tonight? I could fix something out to leave for her if you're sure she'll be stopping by," Alfred went on, watching as Barbara rubbed at her eyes again before slowly turning her chair around so that she was looking at him.

Once they were facing each other, Barbara stared up at him for a long moment saying nothing. "I'm not in the mood for games," she said finally, her voice tired and resigned.

"Is Miss Helena in some kind of trouble?" Alfred asked deciding to get right to the point since Barbara obviously wasn't in the mood for anymore of his hinting. He had seen Barbara in moods like this before when Helena was younger and constantly getting in trouble. It usually appeared before a trip to some precinct or her father.

"Not that I know of," Barbara responded turning back around to face the computer. She really didn't want to be looking at Alfred when they had this conversation. He was far too perceptive and she didn't want to give him any more ammunition than he would be able to gather on his own. "She's fine," Barbara added a few moments later when Alfred failed to verbally respond.

"I must say Miss Barbara, if she's fine in the way you are, I very much doubt that she's fine at all," Alfred replied wishing that he could see her face. Barbara was very good at modulating her tone, controlling her body language, and just overall extremely proficient at hiding her emotions, but even she couldn't control all of the physical affects that accompanied strong emotions, and in times like this it was usually a small motion of her eyes, or an involuntary twitching of her lips, or a tilt of her head that would give away far more about what she was feeling than her words. It was going to be difficult for him to make any headway with her back turned to him, and he suspected she did it because she knew that.

"Alfred," Barbara said shortly, "I …Alfred," she started again getting her tone under control. "I'm really not in the mood to talk about this. Helena's fine, she's not in trouble, and despite your insinuations to the contrary I'm doing all right too. Now, I'm sure you don't believe me, but it's late, I'm tired, and I'd appreciate it if we could save the interrogation about Helena's whereabouts for another day."

"Very well, Miss," Alfred sighed, knowing he wasn't going to get anymore out of her at the moment and that if he appreciated all of his body parts being intact he better not try. "I'll see you in the morning."

Barbara sighed as she heard the doors to the elevator close. Why couldn't everyone just leave well enough alone, and leave her to her delusions? Alfred was right though, she wasn't fine and she doubted that Helena was either. She just had no idea what to do about it.

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

A Week Later …

447 Lexington Dr.

Residence of James Gordon

6:45 pm

Barbara ran her finger along the scarred edge of the kitchen table, a small smile working its way across her face as she traced the groove with her fingernail, her eyes focused on her hand as it moved. That mark had been there for as long as she could remember. She had loved playing with it when she was younger, running her finger along it mesmerized completely oblivious to her father as he spoke to her. He had usually stopped speaking at some point when he realized that she wasn't paying attention to him, and the absence of the sound of his voice humming in the background would interrupt her meditation of the wounded wood and she would look up and blush before smiling apologetically as he grinned at her and shook his head.

The familiarity of the action calmed nerves that she hadn't realized were so badly rattled, and as she looked up and across the table at her father she felt that same old expression come to her face, though he looked more concerned than amused by her mood.

She sighed slightly before fixing her gaze on him and leaning back in her chair. Not even that could remain the same.

"Why don't we play a game," Jim started once he was certain he had Barbara's attention, trying not to smirk as he saw her slouch slightly in her chair upon hearing his words. "I'll ask you a question, you answer it, and I can give you some advice. It'll be fun, we can pretend like I'm your father and you're my daughter," he continued ignoring the glare she sent his way as he finished speaking.

"That sounds like fun," Barbara replied, not quite able to muster up enough energy to move out of her slouch, mostly because she knew that despite what she was about to say the conversation would be far from over since once Jim Gordon got an idea in his head it took a Herculean effort to get him to get rid of it. "The only problem is, you're assuming that there's something wrong."

"Where's Helena?" Jim asked as if Barbara hadn't spoken as he reached out for a nearby bowl of potatoes. He was going to need the energy of a full stomach for this little talk.

Barbara sighed and averted her eyes, before testily replying, "I don't know Dad, she doesn't leave an itinerary with me. She's somewhere doing whatever she wants to be doing," she finished looking back over at him. His fork was hovering over a pile of potatoes about to tuck into it.

Jim rested the fork on the side of his plate carefully so that it wouldn't tip over, and then turned his full attention to Barbara. Barbara's reply had been a bit cutting, which was strange for her. If he hadn't been certain that something was bothering her before he certainly was after that. He was also now comfortably certain that whatever it was had something to do with Helena. Not that that surprised him. It had seemed to him that the young woman was the root cause of almost every bad mood Barbara had been in for the past seven years.

"What'd she do this time?" he asked, wondering if he was going to have to make some calls on the brunette's behalf again. He was almost out of thirty plus years favors in New Gotham through trying to help Barbara help Helena, and he really wasn't in the mood to waste anymore of them on the brunette, though he knew he would, for Barbara and, he had to admit, for Bruce.

"She hasn't done anything," Barbara responded sighing, before shaking her head little, her eyes drifting down to her empty plate for a moment as she collected her thoughts. "Why did you automatically think Helena had done something? You're the third person to do that," she said thinking of Dinah and Alfred.

"Precedent," Jim replied somewhat relieved that Helena wasn't in trouble again, but still worried since he had no more of an idea what was going on with Barbara had he had an hour ago.

Barbara smirked at that but remained silent for the moment. "You shouldn't be so hard on her, she's grown up a lot in the past few years," Barbara said finally straightening up in her chair a bit. She'd found a conversation topic that wasn't centered on her and she planned to go with it. Certainly she had done more than enough thinking about Helena over the past few days, but if she could steer her father and the conversation in the direction she wanted about Helena, she could probably avoid discussing anything that was really bothering her.

Jim stared at her for a moment and then shook his head as Barbara swooped to Helena's defense once again. Barbara had known Helena for over ten years and he still couldn't for the life of him figure out how their relationship worked. The way Barbara related to the brunette was different from anything he had ever seen from her before. When Helena was younger, when they were both younger, he had found it kind of cute the way Barbara seemed to take the girl under her wing, and look out for her. He'd never forget the night he had come home to find the girl eating his cookies at the dinner table, rolling her eyes and barely paying attention to Barbara as she had talked about algebraic proofs. Barbara had gotten up to get an old textbook from her room shortly after he'd arrived and he'd sat down across from Helena and started talking to her, and sometime during the talk she'd mentioned that he should be proud because Barbara was a wicked individual. It'd taken him a minute to realize that was a good thing, but once he had he'd asked her if she was glad she and Barbara were friends. Helena had looked at him then for a moment and said, "for sure, we totally gel together 'cause I'm wicked too". Barbara came back into the room shortly after that and Helena flopped her head down onto the table looking to all the world like she was about to settle down for a nap. Barbara had asked her if she was tired and wanted to go home, but Helena struggled back up into a sitting position and shook her head insisting that she really cared about algebra and wanted to stay. And to Jim's amazement she had actually paid attention to what Barbara was saying, impressing even Barbara with the improvements she had made by the end of the night. When he'd told Barbara about the brunette's comment later on that night he'd expected her to roll her eyes or shake her head since people tooting their own horns had never been something that either of them were particularly fond of, both of them being endowed with a Protestant work ethic that put hard workers above big talkers. But, much to his surprise Barbara had laughed, genuinely amused by the comment. That incident had become the epitome of their relationship in his mind, Helena doing and saying things that nobody else could get away with and Barbara finding her charming and infinitely forgivable, while Helena took interests in things outside of her usual purview so that she could spend time with Barbara, bringing out aspects of each other that were usually hidden from view.

As time went on he got to see a darker side to their strange bond that worried him somewhat. In those first months after Helena had moved in with Barbara, he'd been genuinely worried that Barbara was being willfully blind to aspects of Helena's personality that could end up hurting her not only emotionally, but physically as well given the girl's foul temper. And he had said as much to her, not that she had listened to him. However, even when they were constantly getting into fights with each other, and Helena was constantly getting into fights with everyone, the girl stood by Barbara. Whether it was slouching dourly in the corner of doctor's offices with Barbara during check-ups, or bullying her into eating when she got into one of her then frequent dark moods, Helena was always lurking nearby keeping an eye on her, looking out for her. Those times set the precedent for him being as grateful for her presence in Barbara's life as he was weary of it.

The connection they had to each other was both touching and worrying to him because of, or maybe in spite of the fact, that he had never quite been able to wrap his mind around it.

"If I wanted to be hard on her she'd be in jail by now," he finally replied quirking an eyebrow at Barbara.

"That's not giving me much credit," Barbara responded smiling fondly at him. "You're just convenient," she continued her smile turning into a grin. "I'm sure I would have been able to figure something out."

"Well, I'm glad I helped then," Jim responded easily falling into the pattern of banter with his daughter. "I only want you to use that big brain of yours for good."

Barbara smiled at that and shook her head at her father in amusement as he stood up to clear the table. As Jim picked up the plate from in front of her she followed him with her eyes as he moved over to the counter before dropping her gaze into her lap. Left alone with her thoughts again for the moment, they immediately turned towards the situation with Helena and she found a mighty sigh welling in her chest. She hadn't seen Helena since the night she'd been caught with the journal, and she'd only spoken to her over the coms during sweeps, and during those times Helena had refused to talk about anything but business.

She felt an incredible wave of confusion, sadness and helplessness sweep over her as she thought about the situation. As she sat there staring at her legs, she also became aware of an intense desire to talk to someone, to vent, to get outside input, to be relieved of her burden. But she was Barbara Gordon, she didn't talk about her feelings, she didn't ask for help, she took on other people's burdens. That was what she did, and yet …

"Dad," she spoke, even before she was aware of the words coming out of her mouth.

"Hmmm," Jim said turning around, careful to keep his tone neutral. There was something in Barbara's tone that told him she was considering opening up about whatever it was that was bothering her, and he didn't want to scare her off. She was so skittish about some things that it was just best to automatically exercise caution.

"What," Barbara started before pausing and exhaling, taking a moment to consider her words. "How," she went on a moment later, "did you know that you were in love with Aunt Barbara?" she continued peering over at him.

"How," Jim repeated thoughtfully, as he dried his hands on a nearby dishtowel as he gathered his thoughts. He was surprised by the question, he had to admit that, not only by the subject matter but also by the fact that Barbara had brought up her aunt. He knew that when she was younger there were a lot of things she would've liked to know about her namesake after Barbara Sr., had died. She hadn't really gotten a chance to know her before she was ripped away from them both, and curious as Barbara was he knew that she was interested in her aunt. But she very rarely brought her up, back in the early days and up until the present. He knew it was because she didn't want to upset him, and he wished that he had been able to talk to her about it without being asked, but he hadn't been able to. The pain of losing his wife, especially so violently had been too fresh back then for him to discuss it with her, and since Barbara's own shooting it had become even more of a pink elephant between them. Something that they were both aware of but never spoke of. "Well, I guess I did ask for a question," he sighed moving back over to the table.

Barbara watched him approach silently, her nerves raring up again making her anxious and uncomfortable. She shouldn't have said anything; she didn't know what she had been thinking because now that the opportunity to talk about it was in the process of being created she became painfully award of the fact that she really, really didn't want to talk about it. She was going to have to try and find a way to change the subject, subtly of course since she didn't want her father's antenna twitching about looking for honey. It was really too bad her brain had been operating so slowly lately. "Nevermind," she finally muttered as he took a seat, barely managing not to shake her head at the lameness of that response. "I was just … it's … it's not important."

"I was still in uniform," he started ignoring her comments, knowing that if she had asked the question it WAS important. Barbara wasn't one for idle chitchat or random philosophical chats. If she had brought it up, it was important to her in some way. "We were in the squad car, me and my partner at the time, Uncle Charlie," he said looking over at Barbara, remembering that she had met Charlie quite a few times when she was younger. "I was just minding my own business when he started laughing at me, pointing and shaking his head. 'Oh, Jimmy you got it bad' he kept on saying slapping his leg with his hand. I didn't like that at all and demanded to know what was so goddamn funny, and he told me I'd been humming 'Baby, Now That I've Found You' for about fifteen minutes," he went on shaking his head at the memory. "That was our song, Barbara's and mine, she'd decided that for us about a month before," he continued noticing Barbara smirk at that, "and we'd been listening to it the previous night, which is why I guess it was in my head. I denied it of course, but he wouldn't let it go, and finally I just told him to shut up. And he did, but we both knew I was busted, and later on that night I admitted to myself that he was right and I'd fallen bad. I had her on my mind all the time, wondering what she was doing, where she was, if she was thinking about me, how I could make her smile. I just wanted to be around her all the time. And I guess that's how, that's when. It wasn't so much a matter of discovering feelings as admitting them."

"Oh," Barbara replied lost in thought for a moment as she considered her fathers words. Helena was certainly on her mind all the time lately, and even before reading the journal Helena was in her thoughts more than any other. She was certainly wondering what Helena was doing, where she was, and if she could find a way to make the brunette smile she certainly would've considered it the greatest feat she had ever accomplished. And now that she'd been separated from Helena, she was realizing more than ever how much she wanted to be around her. But she was also fairly certain that she had also wanted Helena to smile, and always liked to be around her, so she wasn't sure whether it meant anything that she was simply aware of those desires now.

"That's … I didn't know you were a closet romantic," she continued looking over at Jim and grinning realizing that she should say something, or he might begin to think about the meaning behind her inquiry, which she really didn't want.

"I'd never been more scared of anything in my life," Jim continued after Barbara settled down again, used to and now unfazed by her teasing. "I suppose that was how I knew too. I guess I realized that if I was that scared of something, it had to be really important. It had to be love," he went on drawing Barbara's eyes back over to him. "All encompassing fear is a great indicator," he finished nodding at Barbara knowingly. "I had the same feeling when I saw you asleep on the couch the first night after you came to live with us."

Barbara smiled at that widely, and he reached over a squeezed her hand as she blushed. "Do you mind if I ask what brought that question up?" he asked leaning back in his chair to consider her. He knew that she had been seeing someone, but he hadn't heard any mention of Mr. Wade Brixton for a month or so and as such was uncertain if they were still seeing each other. Of course, Barbara being Barbara the fact that she hadn't mentioned him lately could have meant nothing more than she hadn't thought to mention him and everything was hunky dory between them.

"Nothing," Barbara replied softly looking over at him. Her mind fighting between an indulgent urge to go back to contemplating the situation with Helena, and remaining in the moment and conversing with her father like a regular person so as not to alarm him. "No reason. I think too much. I was just …" she shrugged helplessly.

"Well, since the other part of my request involved dispensing fatherly advice, I'll just say this before putting dessert on the table. I've found, that when it comes to love, as a general rule, by the time you get around to asking you already know."

"I'm not …" Barbara started immediately, seeing the tender look in his eyes and hearing the soft, encouraging tone his voice had taken on.

"Oh, I know," Jim said throwing his hands up in the air as he stood up again. "That was for future reference," he continued before moving over towards the fridge.

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

The Same Night …

The Dark Horse Bar

Helena's Apartment

7:00 pm

Helena roused herself as she heard a steady pounding on her door, blinking as she lifted her head off of the arm of the couch she had been lying on for the past … two hours she realized as she looked over at the clock on the wall. She'd been watching the red light blinking on her answering machine before the pounding started, and she felt light-headed and sleepy now that she'd been forced to stop.

She was suddenly extremely irritated, at the interruption, at the time she had lost staring at nothing, and at the lethargy she felt even though she hadn't been doing anything all day … all week even. Ever since she gotten back to her apartment from Barbara's that night she had felt drained, could practically see her energy diffusing out of her body in a fine, smoky mist, the discharge rate escalating every day that went by until all she would be left with were small, sporadic wisps that would eventually dissipate taking what was left of her that felt with it. She had literally been hit by cars and felt better than she did at the moment.

She sighed; she hadn't felt this unequivocally shitty since her mother was killed.

"Go away!" she yelled at the door, tossing an arm over her eyes to block out the brightness of the room. It was as if she had suddenly become aware of the light when the knocking had roused her and it was bothering her eyes.

She tried to remember who had left the message on the machine. She knew it was a woman's voice she had heard, and felt a swell of annoyance and anger when she thought that it might be Barbara. Barbara had been calling her all week, leaving quiet messages in a whipped, hesitant tone, her calls coming at intervals so regular she must have been timing them. It was why she had started screening her calls, she was getting tired of pretending to be her answering machine when she picked up and heard Barbara's voice on the other end of the phone.

But it wasn't Barbara that had left the message she remembered as the banging started at her door again. It was someone else, it had been …

Dr. Quinzel. That was it. It had been Dr. Quinzel. She was calling because she'd missed two sessions in a row and she was worried about her. Was everything all right? Quinzel had wanted to know. Had something come up? Did she want to reschedule? Was there anything that she could do? She'd ended off by asking Helena to call her, which Helena hadn't and which she had no intention of doing. Quinzel and her bright ideas were what had gotten her into the position she was in now in the first place, and Helena didn't want to chance any more of the good doctors help.

"Go the fuck away!" Helena yelled again as the beating on her door became louder.

She was so tired. She just wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Remaining conscious had become a supreme act of will power for her lately. She had found that the more fetal her position the farther away the world seemed to be.

"Helena!" came a voice that would have been faint for anyone without Helena's hearing. Dinah, she realized with a sigh.

Dinah was fucking persistent like a pit bull; she knew that for a fact. The girl wasn't going to go away. She rolled herself off the couch and managed to get to her feet. Dinah would stand out there pounding for hours if she thought it would get her inside the apartment sooner or later. And they both knew that it would since the sound would drive Helena insane, compelling her to open the door.

"Howdie," Helena muttered opening the door waving Dinah into the room listlessly before heading back towards the couch, not stopping to check and see if Dinah was following her into the room, or if she had closed the door.

Dinah had closed the door, and had followed her into the room, and as Helena fell back down onto her couch, Dinah stood above her watching her for a moment before crossing to the other side of the room to open a window.

Helena turned to look at her questioningly, craning her neck back over the arm of the couch. Dinah merely responded to the look with, "It smells like a locker room in here. Have you gone outside in the past two days? Have you bathed?"

Helena bit her bottom lip. That sounded exactly like something Barbara would say. In some ways Dinah really was turning into a little Oracle Jr., and reasonable or not that cranked her mood from apathetic to foul.

"Nobody asked you to come up here," Helena replied turning away again to stare down at her feet moodily. "So get off your fucking high horse or leave," she continued vaguely aware of Dinah moving back into the center of the room. "And close that fucking window!"

"I see you're in a charming mood, as per usual," Dinah commented softly, taking a seat on a recliner near the couch Helena was ensconced on. Helena's mood had gotten increasingly abominable as the week had worn on, and it was beginning to wear on Dinah a bit. Barbara had been wrong, Helena hadn't come by later that day she'd asked if they'd gotten into a fight, but she had shown up for sweeps the next night. Only she hadn't come into the clock tower. She'd stayed on the balcony waiting for Dinah to get ready, and though she'd joked around with Dinah off coms as they moved through the city, Dinah had been able to see the tension running through her body. A tension that increased forcing her back straight and causing her to clench and clench her fists whenever Barbara spoke to them. When Helena was forced to respond to Barbara her tones had been clipped, and after their sweep she hadn't even bothered to escort Dinah back to the clock tower in the chivalrous way she usually did when she was going to spend the night at her apartment, instead parting ways with her a few blocks away.

With a small shake of her head, Dinah thought that the nights that would come to follow made that one look like a fun, family trip to the carnival where they skipped all day long, played with puppies in fields of gold, and ate candyfloss until their stomachs hurt.

At the last sweep they had done two nights before, Helena had barely spoken to her except to bark orders or complain about the cold, and had stopped talking to Barbara unless she could respond to her in irritated one-word answers, or with a terse grunt of some kind. And in turn Barbara had been painfully silent, only speaking when it was absolutely necessary and then she spoke softly and tentatively, as if she were afraid the very sound of her voice would cause Helena to freak out. Mostly, however when she could she simply gave her directives and directions to Dinah's com set to relay to Helena.

"Why are you here, Dinah?" Helena asked tiredly. The blonde's comment had actually made her feel somewhat bad. She knew that Dinah had gotten in the middle of what was going on between her and Barbara, and she knew that she had been acting like an ass towards the girl even though she didn't deserve it simply because Dinah had the bad fortune of being around her when she was in such a crappy mood.

"I wanted to talk to you," Dinah said leaning forward, resting her elbows on her knees. "Really talk to you," she continued. "You haven't been by forever, and you won't talk to me on sweeps, even off coms, so that only left one option."

"My little detective," Helena commented turning her head to face Dinah, a small smile on her face. "Look at you deducing on a first tier superhero level, I'm so proud," she continued not missing the look of hurt that flashed across Dinah's eyes before the blonde managed to cover it up. "I'm not sure you really want to talk to me when I'm like this," she went on feeling bad about her treatment of Dinah once again but seemingly unable to stop being an asshole.

"Like what?" Dinah asked softly looking around the room. "Are you drunk?" she asked spotting an empty bottle of rum, if she could go by the label, on the kitchen counter.

"Do I seem drunk?" Helena asked watching Dinah as the teen turned to face her after her eyes lingered on the bottle for a moment longer.

"Honestly? Yes, you do," Dinah replied sighing. "The glassy eyes, the laziness, the short temper, the 'fresh rubble' look of the apartment," she went on, surprised when Helena actually smiled at her.

"I'm not drunk, and I haven't been drunk," Helena responded a moment later, the smile gone from her face, no evidence remaining that it had ever been there.

Dinah looked at her dubiously and then back over at the bottle. Though to Helena's credit, she could only spot that one bottle, and from the look of the place she knew Helena hadn't been cleaning up for them to be hidden out of sight. With Helena's metabolism finishing off one bottle of rum over a thirty hour period or so probably wouldn't have left her drunk.

Helena craned her head up to follow Dinah's gaze, looking at the bottle herself for a moment before settling back down on the couch. "I didn't drink it," she admitted with a sigh. "Thought about it, had a couple glasses but …"

"But?" Dinah asked not quite following.

"Hmph," Helena snorted looking away from Dinah for a moment. "I guess there are still a few things about my sordid past that Red and Alfred haven't made you privy to," she continued tilting her head back towards Dinah. "Let's just say that alcohol and bad moods never led to anything good with me."

"Were you …?"

"An alcoholic?" Helena asked holding Dinah's gaze. "Not quite. But it didn't bring out my more personable side, and I was starting to drink with an alarming regularity," she admitted, remembering battering the lock to Barbara's liquor cabinet with a hammer one summer night at the tender age of seventeen. It wasn't something she was proud of, but her mother had taught her that if she could do something, she could damn well take responsibility for it.

"How did you …?" Dinah began to ask. She knew a little something about alcoholics, and she knew it wasn't something that was easy to knock, and Helena didn't seem like the type to go to meetings or talk out the feelings that were causing her self-destructive behavior.

"I … I nearly hurt Barbara," Helena said her eyes on the ceiling once more as she spoke. "I was so mad … I can't even remember about what now. Everything was just hot, and red and sweaty and I rounded on her, and I took a step towards her my intentions decidedly unfriendly. It was no more than that, a step towards her in anger with a thought of doing something to her in my head, but that was more than enough," she sighed. "I'm not gonna lie, I was not at all pleasant to be around for those first two years, and I'm not exactly a ray of sunshine now, but any pain I caused her was unintentional. I was just fucked up and living in such a close proximity to me she couldn't come out unscathed. But that would've been different, and I knew it. It cleared my head right away. Adrenaline, fear will do that to you, and I was fucking scared."

"Why?" Dinah asked though she had a pretty good idea what Helena was getting at. She'd seen the brunette's temper, usually directed at others and always with a certain amount of control though at times she had more control over it than others, and it was a scary and impressive thing. The idea of Helena being truly out of control, well, she didn't even really want to consider that.

"For a long time, Barbara was all that kept me from sliding into a dark place. I could feel it you know, the anger, the hate, building up inside of me, making me want to do things, hurt people, hit things, breaks things anything to make it go away, to make it stop for just a little while. I remember at school one day, sitting in the principal's office after I'd gotten into a fight, and the man went out of his way to cross the office to stay out of my reach, and he was no small man. He just didn't know if I was going to freak out on him, so he kept his distance. Barbara," she sighed as she said the redhead's name, the sound sad and wistful. "Barbara was just never afraid. She would come up to me in full rages and just rest her hand on my back like we were out for a walk in the park or something. They all thought she was insane, but she knew I wouldn't hurt her, she … trusted that I wouldn't hurt her. And it terrified me to think that for a moment I had wanted to, because if I could hurt her, then there was just … no hope for me," Helena went on flinging her legs over the edge of the couch and standing up, pacing for a few moments before turning to look at Dinah. "I've been careful ever since. I'm an asshole, not an idiot."

Helena was surprised to see Dinah smile when she finished speaking. It was a sweet smile and she didn't understand what place it had showing up during that particular conversation. "That's cute in some way?" She asked a bit peevishly. She was just never going to fucking talk to people ever again, she thought to herself, Dinah's strange response to her revelation drawing her mind back to the confrontation with Barbara over the journal.

"No, not cute," Dinah replied watching as Helena bounced on her feet a little bit, her body in complete contradiction to how it had been when she came in. Helena was now a ball of energy, of tension, of restrained passion and movement. She was practically bursting at the seams with the pressure of confinement and inactivity. "But special," she continued deciding on a word a moment later. "You have so much love for her. Both of you have so much love for each other. That's special," she went on not missing the pained look that momentarily crossed Helena's features before she looked away at the mention of love.

She wasn't privy to the details but she had a fairly good idea what was going now. From the night she'd ended up in the clock tower she been aware of Helena's feelings for Barbara. The brunette didn't broadcast them constantly, and she was actually rather contained and unreadable most of the time, despite what most would think. But when strong emotions came upon her, she couldn't or wouldn't try to fight them and her emotions would broadcast themselves through the room, loudly and freely. Most of the time Dinah was able to block them out, but some still got through before she could get the wall up, which meant that she'd had a pretty good idea what Helena felt for Barbara since that first trip into her dreamscape, though she obviously didn't know every little detail.

Barbara was another story altogether though, until recently that was. In all the time that she had lived with Barbara she was barely able to pick up on any of the older woman's stray emotions. It had confused her at first, until she realized it was because Barbara didn't have stray emotions, which wasn't to say that she didn't feel, just that she kept it locked up so tightly inside, so under control that virtually nothing slipped through her defenses, at least nothing particularly revealing. At times, when she was monitoring Helena's sweeps with Barbara, she had felt concern and worry coming off of her if Helena was in a tough spot, every once in a while she'd pick up on some irritation or amusement, but it was mostly benign things like that. Until a few days before that was.

For the past few days Barbara had been broadcasting almost as loudly as Helena at times. Only it was different than Helena. It was confused, and jumbled and jumpy and it assaulted her senses in a way that Helena's strong emotions never had. Helena's were clean and piercing, translucent, and fairly comprehendible. Helena's feeling were so colour by numbers, she had come to realize because Helena was used to her feelings, whether they were ugly and unpleasant, or happy and shiny she felt them, faced them and dealt with them. She was aware of what she was feeling and it allowed for a certain amount of clarity when she broadcast them. Barbara was the opposite, walling her emotions away, denying them and ignoring them as if she was scared of them. She wasn't comfortable with them and that made it hard for her to understand what she was feeling when she couldn't fence them off anymore. And that in turn meant that they were probably just a little bit less unpleasant for Dinah than they were for Barbara.

However, even through the jumbled mess of emotions that seemed to make up Barbara Gordon recently, she was able to pick up on one feeling that was so strong she sometimes had trouble shutting it out even after she realized Barbara was broadcasting. Love. Sometimes, before when they were all joking around she had been able to pick up on a strong mutual affection between them, a love that shone like a shaft of sunlight emanating from Barbara when she interacted with Helena. But what she had been picking up on lately from Barbara was different than it had once been. Barbara's feelings had seemed to shift from that gentle love into something stronger, and much more intense. Dinah was sure that the change indicated that Barbara was most likely in love with Helena and the confusion she was feeling was because she had absolutely no idea what to do about it. In fact, Dinah suspected she was actually pretty irritated with herself for falling in love with Helena, or at least upset with herself that she wasn't able to keep shutting out her feelings for the brunette indefinitely.

Either way, it was creating an entirely unpleasant reality for all of them.

"What happened?" Dinah asked drawing Helena out of a contemplation of her nails.

"What do you mean?" Helena asked lifting her pinky to her mouth and biting down on the nail, chewing on it nervously. Dinah frowned; she'd never seen Helena do that before. She recognized it for what it was, a nervous reaction, and it struck her that whatever had happened between Helena and Barbara might be more serious than she thought, because she hadn't seen Helena nervous enough to do that before and she'd seen Helena in situations that promised almost certain death.

"I know you two got into a fight. Barbara tried to deny it at first, but I don't think there's any use trying to deny it now," Dinah responded looking at Helena. She had to admit Barbara was good when she was on her game, she had actually managed to convince her that everything was fine that morning, her performance so convincing that Dinah hadn't even worried when Helena hadn't shown up later that night. It was a fact that only made her begin to worry rather seriously about what had happened between the two of them when Barbara stopped trying cover up the fact that there was a problem.

"Has she said anything since?" Helena asked still chewing on her nail her eyes focused on the knuckles of the hand up by her face.

"She hasn't really been saying much of anything lately. Or eating much of anything lately, or sleeping much lately either for that matter," Dinah replied standing up herself, feeling a bit of nervous energy running through her own body now that she had gotten to the matter that brought her over in the first place. "She's been a mess for the past five days, like a staring at a blank screen for half an hour, and trying to drink from empty cups kind of mess. I don't know what happened between the two of you, but it's tearing her up. And you're obviously not doing much better."

Helena dropped her hand to her side as Dinah spoke, and when the blonde finished she looked at her hard for a long time, a gentle look momentarily entering her eyes, before they turned steely and distant once again.

"You're right, Dinah, you don't know what happened between the two of us," Helena started, taking a step beginning to pace again as she spoke. "And all you need to know about what happened is that I've said my piece," she paused there for a moment before laughing darkly. "Well, really I had my piece said for me, but that's beside the point, which is that the proverbial ball is in Barbara's court," she went on, her voice becoming more agitated. "The silence is hers. The inaction is hers. She," Helena said pausing again momentarily. Her voice had continued to rise steadily as she spoke, and the 'she' had come out sounding loud, harsh and ragged. "She," Helena went on a moment later, her voice back under control. "She's the one that has to respond. I can't," her pinky was up by her mouth again and she was chewing away as she lapsed into silence for a moment, looking smaller and more vulnerable than Dinah could remember. "I'm just, I'm waiting, you know?" she said finally looking back over at Dinah. "I'm waiting and she's not saying anything. But I need to know before …"

"Before what?" Dinah asked when Helena trailed off, her eyes getting a distant look in them as she returned to chewing on her nail.

"Before anything, D," Helena said softly. "I'm in fucking limbo here," she said throwing up her hands in helplessness and frustration. "I just … now that it's out there I need to know before, before I can do anything else … and she's just fucking sitting there not saying anything," she finished stressing the last three words.

"She's really confused right now," Dinah said feeling the need to defend Barbara though she wasn't sure why, since it was obvious Helena was hurting just as much as the redhead was.

"And I'm hemorrhaging," Helena replied somewhat shortly, not really wanting to hear about Barbara's confusion because she was put on the spot by sticking her nose into someone else's business. "I don't want to get all school yard on your ass, D, but Barbara started it okay. This," Helena said waving her hand around. "She started it. She opened me up and left me on the table while she's gone for a fucking smoke break, so you'll have to excuse me if I seem like I could give a fuck about her confusion, okay? Because she's got to finish this, one way or the other, and she's dropping the ball. The ball's fucking rolled under the radiator, you know?"

Dinah didn't respond because she knew Helena wasn't really asking her anything. But she had an answer to something she had been wondering about. She was fairly certain she knew what was going on. Somehow Barbara had deduced, or discovered Helena's feelings for her, and they probably talked about it somewhat, and then when Helena asked how Barbara felt –which she would—the redhead had probably frozen up, denying or confirming nothing. And Helena, being Helena and feeling vulnerable and rejected had probably stormed out in an indeterminate state of rage and not returned since.

Dinah sighed and ran a hand through her hair. The situation was so messed up.

She toyed with the idea of telling Helena that she knew Barbara had feelings for her, encouraging her to just be patient while Barbara worked through what she was feeling because there would be a pay off at the end. But as she thought about that more, she hesitated. She didn't know Barbara as well as Alfred or Helena, but she had picked up on a few things, and one of them was that what Barbara felt and what Barbara did were not always in agreement with each other. She knew that Barbara had feelings for Helena, was ninety-nine percent certain Barbara was in love with Helena, but she realized that she was far less certain Barbara would admit it anytime soon if at all. The chaotic feelings she was picking up from the redhead were enough to let her know that this was something that was far from a simple decision for Barbara, despite what she or Helena might think. And she was certain that if she told Helena that Barbara was in love with her, only to have Barbara say or do nothing about it, that she could end up driving an even bigger wedge between them than was currently there, and she just couldn't risk that. This left her with very little options for what she could reveal to Helena, and talking to Barbara was a fairly moot point since she was certain the redhead already knew how Helena felt about her.

"Just … give her time," Dinah said, her tone almost pleading as she crossed over to where Helena was standing, her words feeling hollow even as she spoke them.

"What do you think this is?" Helena asked backing away from the hand Dinah tried to place on her shoulder as she waved around the room.

Dinah dropped her hand back to her side. Helena had a point.

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

Three Days Later …

Clock Tower

Barbara's Bedroom

2:45 am

Barbara traced her fingers along the neat print standing out so starkly against the whiteness of the page it was on. As the delicate skin of her index finger traced the words, "If I were your woman/I would be faithful and true … I would whisper in your ear, and make sweeeeet love to you," she smiled as her flesh ran over the exaggerated "e's" and could practically hear them coming out in Helena's voice, a soft teasing whisper through mischievously curved lips.

She closed the journal quickly, and reached over to her side turning off the bedside lamp, before carefully removing her glasses and placing them on the nightside table.

Her hand was shaking slightly. She watched it shudder for a moment willing it to stop, and when it wouldn't she looked away with a sigh, slumping down into the pillows that were supporting her back.

The journal was still clutched in her hand and that fact wasn't lost on her.

She was driving herself insane. She wasn't sleeping, she was barely eating, and she was distracted. It took all of her concentration, which hadn't been considerable for the past week, to complete the most rudimentary functions on Delphi and she was only able to maintain her concentration during Helena and Dinah's sweeps through a motivating fear of what might happen if she let her guard down. She had gotten the plays she was teaching mixed up in class the other day, and even her co-workers had begun to inquire about her health. She was pasty, had bags under her eyes from a lack of sleep and stress, leaving her such a mess that even Wade, who had been studiously avoiding her since the cancelled trip to Bermuda and their break-up had asked her if everything was alright.

She was coming completely apart at her seams, it was as if she could feel her emotions pushing against her skin, threatening to break lose from her at any moment, to claw their way through her so that finally they could be free.

She hadn't laid eyes on Helena in ten days. It felt like ten months.

She knew she needed to do something, that she needed to act, not think. She'd been thinking almost twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week and it hadn't helped her at all. And yet she lay there, unmoving, not acting but thinking. Again. Always thinking about Helena.

What are you afraid of? She whispered the question into the dark of her room, her eyes focused on a ceiling that she couldn't make-out hoping to find her heart up there.

Vulnerability, she finally supplied to the question she had asked herself acknowledging that if she kept on avoiding herself there was no way she was going to be able to come up with any sort of solution to the situation.

But that wasn't all there was to it, and she knew it.

What are you afraid of?

Inadequacy. The word came to her unbidden, leaving her uneasier than the vulnerability response had. Vulnerability was an easy one, she knew. To admit to herself and even to admit to others. Everyone hated feeling vulnerable. It was a universal concern, not specific to her, and in that way she could distance herself from it, rationalize it. Justify it. Inadequacy was a more complicated concern, and related to things that were very much personal, very much her. Her paralysis, and her desire to avoid emotional entanglements were all very much personal things, not universal, unique to her, Barbara-esqe.

What are you afraid of?

Disappointment, she realized with a sigh. She was afraid of disappointing Helena, she knew this as she analyzed her other answers to the question swirling around in her head. She was afraid of opening herself up to Helena, of being vulnerable to her only have her inadequacies become a problem, create a problem. Helena already complained that she kept things to herself too much, that she didn't open up to her, that she was inaccessible more often than not. Helena was tactile, emotional, warm, and despite the front that she put forth, Barbara knew that Helena needed to be with someone who could express their emotions as freely as their touches, who could share things with her, thoughts and feelings on a level comparable to how Helena could. She needed someone who could be open with her and she wasn't sure she could be that person. She had spent so much time building up her walls, compartmentalizing herself, working on maintaining an emotional distance from others and herself that she was uncertain if she could tear it down; merge all the aspects of herself together, even if she wanted to. If she remained how she was, Helena wouldn't, Helena couldn't take it, she was sure of that. Helena would leave her, and it would be deserved.

And it wasn't only the emotional closeness she was afraid of failing at, but also physical closeness. Over the past week she had given a lot of thought to what kind of lover Helena would be. More thought actually than she wanted to admit, and she had come to the conclusion that Helena would make love like she fought, like she argued, like she ate. With complete and utter abandon, passionately, attentively, hot, and wet. She would need a lover who could meet her, match her passion, fuel it, consume her as they were consumed. Who could respond to her beautiful, strong hands in a way befitting the affection and concentration with which she would be making love to them. And again she wasn't sure that she could be that person, that lover. She wanted to be that lover, her ruminations over the past week wouldn't allow her to deny that any longer, her bodies reactions to those thoughts leaving no doubt in her mind that she wanted Helena, badly, and on more than a few recent nights, desperately. But when she'd tried to satiate that desire, it had brought fear with it as well as release. It was a release she had to work hard and long for, so long that if she hadn't been so desperately aroused she would have called it a night a third of the way through her efforts. But her body had demanded some satisfaction and that's exactly what it had gotten. Some satisfaction. For despite her arousal, and her patience and her hard work, her orgasm had been adequate, the pleasure of finally peaking coming more from its arrival than its intensity. Being someone's lover was much about wanting to please them as it was about wanting to feel pleasure yourself, and that was the rub. If it had simply been a matter of having little response herself she could have lived with that, would have been more than happy to turn her attention and her passion towards giving Helena pleasure, making her cum, cum hard enough for both of them. But it wasn't simply a matter of that, Helena wouldn't let it be, she knew it. Helena would want to give as much pleasure as she received, and she would be disappointed, because no matter how much Barbara wanted it, she knew she wouldn't be able to respond to Helena the way Helena would want her too, would need her too. She would disappoint her, she was sure of it. Helena would leave her, and it would be deserved.

What are you afraid of?

Being left. That's what it came down to, Barbara realized as her thumb idly ran along the leather cover the journal that had started all of this. Admitting that she loved Helena, that she wanted Helena, would open herself up to Helena, and she was terrified that despite Helena's words, that the love she felt for her wouldn't be enough to withstand the reality of being with her. She was afraid that she would end up pushing Helena away, or that she would be unable to fulfill her, resulting in Helena leaving her. Either way she ended up alone, without Helena. And the thought of not having Helena in her life, of not being able to talk to her, and see her, and touch her even if casually, left her heart thundering painfully in her chest and a hollow, empty feeling in her stomach.

A feeling that intensified when she realized she didn't have to use her imagination to know what it would feel like to be without Helena, because she was already without her. Which left her with the question of whether it was better to deny her feelings to Helena and have her pull away for good, or admit her feelings and have her possibly pull away for good?

Barbara brought her hand up to her face and pinched the bridge of her nose wearily. When she phrased it like that there didn't really seem to be much of a choice.

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

The Next Night

The Dark Horse Bar

Helena's Apartment

2:00 am

Helena stalked into her apartment, kicking the door shut with her foot before turning around bracing her hand on the door, her head hanging down listlessly as she looked at the floor, aware of nothing but the sound of her harsh breaths and the obscenely loud beating of her heart.

Pushing away from the door she lifted up her right foot, catching it in her hand to reach for the zipper, hopping slightly to keep her balance as she fought to get the boot off. Managing to yank it off, but nearly falling over in the process, she held the black leather boot in her hand for a moment before turning to face a nearby wall. Staring at it for a moment, she felt a growl growing inside of her, and as it reached her throat she angrily threw the boot against the wall, before agitatedly reaching for the other.

Dropping the other boot on the ground carelessly, she walked further into her apartment, stopping when she reached the far wall and pivoting. There was nowhere to go. She began walking back towards the door, and when she neared it she pivoted again.

She kept this up for an indeterminate amount of time as she ran a hand through her hair, tugging at it every so often and flicking her head to the side every so often to glance at the doorway to her bedroom.

Stopping suddenly in the middle of a pacing cycle, Helena stared hard into the dark of her room, and then started off towards it, entering the darkness in a flurry not even bothering to turn on the light.

She headed straight for her closet, opening the door so violently it creaked under the assault, and reached above her, tugging down a large suit case from the shelf above the rack where about half of her wardrobe was housed. She forcefully swung the suitcase to the side and carried it towards the bed, lifting it up easily and resting it on her mattress. She unzipped it and turned to face the closet again, staring at it intensely for a moment.

Her nostrils flared slightly in distaste as she breathed in. She was sick of the stink of New Gotham. It was all over her. She hated the fucking city, the smell of it, the darkness, the assholes that inhabited it, the endless urban sprawl, and the scent of death that carried on the wind. She was fucking sick of New Gotham and wanted to get out. She wanted to go home, where things were old but beautiful, and everybody drank wine and nobody felt bad about it, where people could scream at each other and hug a few seconds later, where cafes outnumbered arcades. She wanted to go home where things had made sense. She hadn't been back to Paris since they had moved to Gotham. She was forgetting it. She was forgetting her home, her past, and herself. New Gotham was suffocating her.

Helena jerked towards the closet, the suddenness of the motion making it almost a lurch. She started to rip clothes off of their hangers, shirts, skirts, pants, and flung them behind her carelessly, already reaching for the next item almost before the previous ones were out of her hands.

Then she was standing by the side of the bed, grabbing the discarded clothes in handfuls and shoving them into the suitcase, pressing down on them and shoving things to the side to make more room.

The entirety of New Gotham was too small for the both of them. She would give Barbara her city back; she had no use for it anymore. She'd given New Gotham her blood, her heart, her mother, her love, her time and all the city had ever done was take things from her, one after the other, yanking things out from under her in the dead of night when she wasn't looking. She'd given New Gotham her time, and she'd given Barbara time and both of them were fucking her. Barbara had time, time to come by, time to talk to her, time to say something, anything. But she didn't, she didn't say anything.

Helena paused, looking around the room urgently. The suitcase was full and there were still things that had to be packed. She needed something else to start shoving things into.

She dropped down to her knees and looked under the bed, her mind still racing as her body moved of its own accord.

She figured that Barbara was probably still thinking about shit. Turning it over in her head again and again, dissecting it until it was a colourless, tasteless, odorless, meaningless mush, and then poking at it some more. Her emotions were just another specimen to be dissected, and analyzed logically and scientifically. That was a typically Barbara thing to do, to think things past the point of death. That had always been one of the redhead's problems, thinking too much. She thought all the time, never stopping, thinking, thinking, thinking.

But that wasn't her fault, she thought to herself as she stalked towards the closet again looking for a duffle bag, or a burlap sack, or a garbage bag. She could only be expected to sit around waiting for something, for a response for so long. While Barbara was thinking, she should've thought about the fact that she was waiting for her to talk. She'd given Barbara plenty of time. Whatever happened was on the hacker's head now, she'd done her part. She was fucking leaving and Barbara would just have to deal with that. She'd brought it upon herself.

Helena stopped moving suddenly, exhaustion sweeping through her body.

She looked at the haphazardly packed bags and sighed wondering what she had been doing.

She walked the few steps that it took her to reach her bed and sat down on the edge of it, rubbing her eyes with the heel of her hand for a moment before resting her elbows on her knees, allowing them to dig into her thighs as she dropped her head into her hands.

She wasn't going to go to France.

She pushed the suitcase to the side and eventually off of the bed, ignoring the thump it made as she lay back on her mattress. She was so tired.

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

The Next Day

The Dark Horse Bar

Helena's Apartment

5:00 pm

Barbara paused outside of the door to Helena's apartment staring at the dark brown wood of the door, her heart hammering in her chest. She had been calling all day but just like all of the others since Helena caught her with the journal the brunette hadn't picked up. Not that Barbara blamed Helena for that of course, if she was the other woman she wouldn't have wanted to speak to her either.

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

Helena extended her arm up holding her body upright her weight supported by her right arm as she moved her left hand behind her back to rest on the small of her back and then she pushed back down, and up, down and up. Her arm burned and sweat was literally dripping off of her face and hair onto the floor beneath her, puddling like a miniature rainfall. Her eyes stung and her heart pounded in her chest as if it was about to give out.

She couldn't remember when she had started working out.

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

Barbara let her hand drop into her lap as she knocked on the door for a third time. As she waited it occurred to her that she didn't even know for certain that Helena was at home. Leonard had said that he hadn't seen her come down at all during the day but she knew better than anyone besides Helena perhaps that not seeing the brunette didn't mean she hadn't gone by. Sneaking was Helena's specialty after all.

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

Helena paused as she looked through the peephole and then let her head fall forward to rest against the back of the door for a moment as she tried to get her breathing and rapidly beating heart under control.

So this was it.

Her heartbeat began to slow and a strange calm began to settle over her. She removed her forehead from the back of the door and took a half step back placing some space between herself and the wood. She lifted her right hand up and brushed her bangs out of her face and then she reached for the doorknob.

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

Barbara looked up as the door slowly opened, blinking almost surprised to find that Helena was inside and that she had decided to open the door. She was decked out in a tight white tank top that was clinging to her skin – soaked through to the point where it was nearly see through – and dark blue track pants that hung low on her hips allowing a smooth expanse of taunt, glistening skin abdomen to show in-between where the top ended and the pants began. Her hair was mussed and her chest was rising and falling fairly quickly drawing Barbara's attention to it. She looked completely disheveled, exhausted and sexy as hell.

Barbara rubbed her palms on her denim clad legs as she felt her temperature rise with arousal. She desperately hoped that if a blush had come to her face that Helena would interpret it as embarrassment, which she was certainly feeling as well.

"Hi," she said finally an awkward smile coming to her lips as she finally looked up to meet Helena's eyes. She sucked in a breath when she did surprised to find that despite the fact that Helena had been calmly watching her for a while her eyes were feral.

"Hey," Helena returned, turning her head to look into the apartment. She had cleaned it up a little bit since Dinah had been over and it almost looked presentable. "Well, come in," she said making a sweeping motion with her hand and stepping back to make room for Barbara to enter the apartment.

"I …" Barbara started, pivoting her chair so that she was looking at Helena as the brunette turned around to face her after closing the door.

"Listen," Helena started at the same time both of them lapsing into silence after they both spoke. "Why don't you just … ah, make yourself at home," Helena continued when Barbara simply blinked at her obviously not knowing what to do. "I'm just going to grab a shower and …"

"Why?" Barbara asked speaking before she could think better of it. She felt like hitting herself in the head. This wasn't the time to be questioning Helena. If the brunette felt like taking a shower she could take a shower. Really she should have just been grateful that Helena had let her in and not have been questioning her completely understandable desire to bathe.

Helena looked at her for a second then shrugged. "I'm all … wet," she replied glancing down at herself as if to confirm that she was indeed covered in sweat.

"I've seen you sweaty before," Barbara replied wondering not only at the words that were coming out of her mouth but at the almost painful clutch her heart gave at the word 'wet' coming out of Helena's mouth. Nervousness was not a good emotion on her, it made her awkward, inarticulate, clammy, uncomfortable, and with a limited ability to control her words allowing them to spew out of her mouth like a faulty facet. "I like you fine sweaty," she finished biting down on her lip after the words came out trying to stop herself from adding, 'in fact I'd love to make you sweaty' thus completely mortifying herself. This was why she tried to not speak when it wasn't necessary.

Helena stared at her for a moment, her reaction to Barbara's verbal ramblings non-existent. Barbara thought to herself that she hadn't been under a gaze that impassive since Bruce had left town. "Can I get you something to drink? Eat?" Helena asked finally linking her hands behind her back, the motion effortlessly casual.

"Do you have any wine?" Barbara asked her voice hopeful. She was certain that drinking, given the situation she found herself in, probably wasn't going to make the situation any better, but it would relax her and that could only make things go a bit a more smoothly. She hoped.

Helena raised an eyebrow at that watching Barbara carefully for a moment before sighing internally. It was only five in the afternoon, and Helena knew that if Barbara was already asking for wine it wasn't going to be a fun conversation. However, she simply said, "Of course I do. I'm French," and then moved towards the kitchen without another word.

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

Barbara waited for Helena in the main room staring at her feet wishing that she could tap them. It had been a nervous habit of hers since she was a little child, whenever she felt uncomfortable those feet would start tapping, the repetitive motion giving her something to concentrate on besides her nervousness. It had always helped calm her somewhat. She didn't even have that small comfort anymore.

"Voici que vous allez," Helena breathed out drawing Barbara out of the contemplation of her unmoving feet as she presented a glass for the redhead to take.

Barbara brought the glass to her lips taking a sip as she watched Helena walk a few steps to the couch and gracefully lower herself onto the cushions. Helena brought her own glass to her lips, taking a brief sip before staring down into the dark red liquid. Barbara knew that she wasn't going to speak, that it would be up to her to break the silence, to start the conversation and to carry it for a while.

"I love what you've done with the place," she said lightly and with what she hoped was a teasing smile on her face as her eyes wandered around the room.

Helena followed her gaze for a moment before shrugging. "It's amazing how fast the proverbial shit has piled up now that I'm actually living here," she commented as she lifted her glass to her lips again her eyes scanning the magazines and CD cases that were spread over almost every available surface. The cleaning up had mostly involved removing take-out containers, socks and underwear.

Barbara glanced over at her and then away just as quickly at Helena's comment, it was a clear reference to the fact that before the incident with the journal, even when they were fighting with each other, Helena still usually spent two or three nights a week at the clock-tower.

"I should get a butler or something," Helena added a few seconds later causing Barbara to smile though Helena's own reaction to the comment was no more than a faint twitching of her lips, if that.

She reminded Barbara a lot of Selina at the moment, really since she had entered the apartment. There was an unnatural calm surrounding Helena that was much more reminiscent of her mother than of the Helena that Barbara had come to know. Helena's energy had always been slightly different than her mothers, even though they shared the same flirtatiousness, feline grace and sensuality. Helena always seemed to be crackling with a kinetic energy, whereas Selina was more of a low, simmering burn. Since she had arrived Helena had been simmering.

"You didn't come all the way over here for wine, did you?" Helena asked finally a bit of the irritation Barbara had known she had to be feeling creeping into her voice as she broke the silence. She didn't look over at her as she spoke but watching her closely for a minute Barbara could see a tenseness in her limbs that she hadn't noticed before. Helena wasn't nearly as calm or unaffected by her visit as she was pretending to be.

"No, I didn't," Barbara replied reaching out and resting her glass on the coffee table. "I wanted to talk to you about …"

"The journal," Helena supplied uncurling her legs and letting them fall over the edge of the couch so that she could lean forward. It was an aggressive, somewhat impatient move with the aggravated vibe that was radiating off of the brunette and in that much more Helena than anything Barbara had felt since entering the apartment. It was almost comforting.

"Yeah," Barbara breathed out looking away from Helena for a moment as she tried to gather her thoughts. "I … I know I shouldn't have read it and I am truly sorry for that. I never wanted to hurt you, or make you feel …"

A loud, irritated sigh erupted from Helena stopping her mid-sentence and causing her to look over at the young woman questioningly. Helena exhaled again grumpily before meeting her eyes and waving her hand impatiently. "Just, get to the point."

"The point?" Barbara asked understanding what Helena wanted but her own anxiety making her want try and postpone it.

"You came over here to say something to me not apologize really lamely," Helena responded shifting on the couch, she was moving almost constantly now. "I know you're sorry, I know you didn't mean to hurt me," she continued her tone conveying that she understood though she wasn't particularly impressed with Barbara's actions. "Blah, blah, blah," she continued her tone and waving hand motions dismissive. "I don't need to hear it. Just get to the point."

"Okay," Barbara said wishing that she had been able to stick with the rough plan she had come up with, but knowing that she was going to have to just go with the flow. "The point is that … words, they … they give shape, weight … meaning to emotions that would otherwise just … be," she went on her eyes losing focus on Helena as she spoke, looking inwards trying to find her words. "And when I read your words, a form, a name was given to things I'd been feeling without realizing it, and it scared me."

She noticed Helena shift at that admission her posture relaxing somewhat, interested and hoping, but also weary. She didn't say anything however, so Barbara continued. "It scared me for so many reasons, but sometime during one of my late night insomnia sessions, I realized that the thing that scared me the most wasn't my feelings, but the thought of losing you," she went on sparing a brief glance at Helena as she spoke before looking away again, feelings words swelling up inside of her knowing that they had to be expelled from her, exorcised. "I was just consumed, overcome by these airy voices, by a fear of what I was feeling and what it meant, of … I don't … when you asked me what I felt, I wanted to say what I was thinking … I wanted to move forward but I couldn't let go. I … it's so hard, for me, to release it with my brain questioning, whispering about hurt where there is none, concentrating on fears instead of hope. And it, it rooted me … but I … I couldn't let that be it. I knew that there was something more powerful than fear," the words were spilling out of her mouth now, pouring from her lips like a fine wine as her hands shook and motioned with emotion as she looked at Helena pleadingly, imploring her to understand.

"What?" Helena asked softly causing Barbara to blink, to really focus on her instead of simply staring at her. She was already off of the couch by the time the question came out of her mouth, moving towards Barbara, coming to kneel in front of her. It was entirely possible that Barbara wasn't going to say what she hoped, what she believed she was going to say. It was entirely possible that she was getting her hopes up only to have them cave in on her a few minutes later. But impulse control had never been her strong suit, hiding her feelings had never been one of her strengths, and hiding from her feelings had never been one of her vices. She placed her hand on Barbara's knee, walking out onto that proverbial limb, because she knew that it was only out on the limb that one would find the fruit.

"Love," Barbara said looking down into Helena's eyes, blinking even as tears fell from her eyes and a large, radiant smile spread across her lips. "So much … for you," she continued her words slowing as the fever in her mind that had been forcing her words out so quickly before cooled, now that she had passed the turning point.

"Barbara," Helena said, her hand moving to the side of the redhead's face, her heart skipping when Barbara turned her face into her hand, her lips pressing against the skin of Helena's palm. She leaned up and forward, wrapping her arm around Barbara's back pulling an acquiescent Barbara towards her, inhaling deeply and tightening her arms when she felt Barbara grab onto her and bury her face in her neck as she clung to her. Barbara was coming apart in her arms, but it was okay, because Helena was there to put her together again.

Helena blinked at the sudden cool on her neck as the air caressed skin that was wet with Barbara's tears and the redhead pulled back from her. Helena watched as she drew back into her chair, her head turned the side trying to hide her face from the brunette as she sniffled and tried to calm her ragged breathing.

"Don't," Helena said, reaching for Barbara's face with both of her hands, placing them on both sides of Barbara's face and drawing her head back towards her so that they were looking at each other once again. "I love you," she breathed out, her voice catching as she found herself blinking rapidly, her eyes burning and her vision blurring slightly as her eyes filled with tears. "Please, don't hide from me," she continued before slowly leaning forward, not wanting to startle Barbara who she was sure was at her limit for sudden changes, finally brushing her lips against Barbara's a few seconds later, her lips slick with the wetness of Barbara's tears, and her own she became aware when she felt Barbara's thumbs on her cheeks, brushing gently against wet skin.

When she pulled back slightly so that she could see Barbara's face again, she licked her lips absently as they still tingled with the feel of Barbara's lips, a smile working its way across her face as she tasted the salty tang of Barbara's tears.

"Now you're all wet too," Helena commented still wearing a smile so large that it threatened to break her face, referencing her earlier sweaty appearance.

"I think you'll find that getting me wet won't be a problem," Barbara smirked, a smile large enough to match Helena's working its way across her face as her eyes twinkled. She couldn't believe she had just said that. She felt giddy, and light like Atlas getting the world lifted off of her shoulders. And when Helena smiled at her and drawled, "Miss Gordon," in a deliciously scandalized tone she reached out for the brunette and drew her towards her happily into a deep, wet kiss that had her hands tangling in Helena's hair as the brunette sucked her bottom lip into her mouth, nibbling on it slightly before demanding entrance into her mouth.

Barbara smiled again as they broke apart, brushing some hair off of Helena's forehead before her eyes dropped to the brunette's slightly parted lips. She was a bottom lip sucker, which was absolutely too sexy. She leaned forward again meeting Helena's waiting lips, her mind pondering Helena's tongue ring before Helena overwhelmed her senses so much that her mind could ponder no more.

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

Barbara laughed softly as she felt Helena's hands dancing along her ribcage playfully, the brunette's touch turning into more of a caress before it could begin to tickle her too much.

"Je suis heureux," Helena mumbled into her neck as she licked and nipped at it lightly, her lips lingering over every patch of skin available to her there as her hands continued to idly move over the damp, naked flesh of Barbara's relaxed, completely satiated body.

"What?" Barbara asked lazily, barely able to make out the words Helena had mumbled against her but certain that she had said something about being glad. She smiled, Helena had been mumbling, screaming and moaning the odd phrase in French since they had retired to the bedroom earlier that evening. At the moment she found it terribly adorable, but during the past few hours she had also found it powerfully arousing as Helena had stared down at her with feral eyes, her hair hanging in front of her face as her fingers pumped vigorously inside of her while she whispered things like, "Vous aiment cela?" Do you like that? A knowing smile on her lips as she cradled Barbara's back with her other arm.

She ran a hand through Helena's dark locks and pressed a kiss to the top of her head as the brunette continued to languidly explore her body, her question unheard or momentarily forgotten by the younger woman.

"I'm glad," Helena repeated lifting up her head so that she could see Barbara, "that you read the journal," she continued finishing her earlier thought as she looked down at her hand, watching as she cupped Barbara's left breast and ran her finger over the newly taunt point, smiling as the action caused Barbara to gasp and arch up into her hand.

They'd both reached orgasm the last time around half an hour before but neither of them were tired, still wired even though their bodies demanded some rest, but Helena hadn't been able to stop touching Barbara, and Barbara hadn't minded that at all, causing both of them to remain in a low level state of arousal as they recovered from their love-making. Helena's state of arousal was being to rise again and if Barbara's reaction to her touch was any indication so was the redhead's. The natural redhead, she thought to herself with a smile as she lowered her head to watch her hand as she let it trace down Barbara's abdomen and then further down until she was cupping Barbara's sex, pressing into her lightly, teasingly for the moment.

"You are?" Barbara gasped, her hips twitching up as Helena continued to patiently stimulate her, slowly building up the sensations in her lower region. Already, even though Helena had just started touching her again she could feel her arousal building. Her breaths were starting to become short again and she could feel her hips moving to meet Helena's hand as she tried to increase the contact. She leaned up on her elbows, watching Helena's face as the brunette watched herself work, and then lowered her eyes to watch as Helena slipped her fingers between her folds, a predatory smile spreading across her face as she looked up at Barbara.

"You were right," Helena said holding Barbara's eyes as she brought her finger up to her lips, biting the tip of it before sucking it into her mouth, her eyes sliding shut for a moment as she sucked on the digit. "Getting you wet really isn't a problem," she continued when she'd finished with the finger, leaning forward to brush her lips against Barbara's as her hand dipped below again. "Lay back," Helena said softly as Barbara gasped as her thumb brushed over the redhead's clit, her eyes hooding as she felt an increase in the moisture flowing out of Barbara at the motion.

Barbara did lie back, watching Helena as she settled herself along side of her, never once stopping the movements her hands were making. Honestly, Barbara was amazed at the accurateness of Helena's statement. When the brunette had first started touching her, even though she had been considerably aroused, the sensations that she was feeling had been distant and much lighter than they should've been, than she'd hoped they'd be. She had tensed up as her previous fears began to tumble back into her head and she had unconsciously started to draw her body away from Helena's touch as the brunette had watched her for indications of how her touches were affecting her. But Helena would have none of that and had drawn her back into her body, caressing her comfortingly, while whispering to her that it would be all right and to relax. And she had eventually, under the tender and sensual ministrations of Helena's mouth and hands. And she had been shocked to find out how right Helena had been. Far sooner than she ever would have imagined, and with far more intensity than she thought was possible, sensations started to ripple through her, sweeping her up and eventually away, the orgasms that had been coaxed from her by Helena's hands stronger than ones she had had even before the shooting.

Helena reached with her free hand for Barbara's left, whispering, "look at me," softly, drawing Barbara's eyes over to hers as she placed the redhead's hand on her breast, never once breaking eye contact. "Contact vous-même," she whispered rubbing herself along the side of Barbara's body, telling Barbara to touch herself as her own hand began to move, rubbing Barbara with more purpose as she spoke. She'd learned over the course of the evening that talking to Barbara – whether it was dirty talk, French or especially French dirty talk – turned her on considerably, jump-starting her libido. She had also learned that touching herself in front of Barbara caused the redhead to practically start dripping and she was fairly certain that getting Barbara to touch herself while she watched would produce the same affect. Not to mention that it was good for her too.

Helena watched as Barbara watched her, holding her eyes for a long moment as if she was going to resist, was going to pretend that she didn't want it, but any defiance that was in those eyes soon disappeared and Barbara's eyes slid shut as she began squeezing her breast, alternating between pinching her nipple and rolling it between her fingers and tugging on it. Her bottom lip was tucked between her teeth chewing on it lightly and when she opened her eyes again her gaze seared into Helena's.

Helena lowered her head, taking Barbara's other nipple in her mouth, sucking on it wantonly as her eyes remained focused on Barbara's hand as the redhead moaned and continued to manipulate her breast, Helena's hips twitching and rubbing along Barbara's thigh as her fingers continued to thrust steadily into Barbara, her fingers easily sliding in and out of the redhead well lubricated by the flood of moisture that had come out of Barbara when she first touched herself. The move having also quite effectively driven Helena wild, cranking up the brunette's arousal to near meltdown proportions.

Shifting her position slightly, Helena maneuvered herself so that she was straddling Barbara's thigh, her sex resting against the redhead's hipbone where she would still be able to feel her, her right hand continuing its pistoning motion inside of Barbara as she began to ride the older woman. Her head fell forward as she moved herself against Barbara and inside of her, Barbara's hands roughly moving up her sides, scratching her skin, before cupping her breasts, causing her to groan and rub herself more vigorously against Barbara's flesh, her wetness spreading over Barbara's skin as the redhead worked a hand behind her neck and pulled her down towards her, pressing Helena's lips forcefully against her own, her tongue demanding entry into Helena's mouth, brushing against the brunette's metal stud as she violently thrust her hips into Helena's hand.

"Barbara," Helena breathed out harshly, her breath coming in ragged gasps as her body began to shake. She was close. "Je vais à cum," she stated holding the redhead's olive green eyes as she felt her orgasm approaching. "I'm gonna cum," she repeated practically growling the words, the look in Barbara's eyes as she spoke and the tightening of the redhead's inner muscles on her fingers as she felt Barbara tensing for orgasm, pushing her closer to the edge. Barbara's lips parted slightly, and her eyes squeezed shut, her hips bucking against Helena's hand desperately while increasing the contact between Helena's center and herself. They were both on the edge. "Cum avec moi," Helena whispered lowering her head so that the words were whispered directly into Barbara's ear, her hot breath tickling the woman's skin pushing her to that final plateau. "Cum with me," Helena repeated, and with that she heard Barbara call out her name before burying her head in Helena's neck as her body shook uncontrollably, a second orgasm ripping through her body as she felt Helena grasp onto her tightly as her own orgasm exploded through her body saturating Barbara's hips and thigh with wetness, before they collapsed against each other, clinging together as aftershocks ran through their fatigued bodies.

"Yeah," Helena muttered resting her forehead against Barbara's, not speaking again for a moment as she tried to catch her breath. "In retrospect," she continued a few moments later, sliding off of the redhead's body to curl herself up beside her. "I'm definitely glad you read the journal."

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

Dark Horse Bar

Helena's Apartment

Bedroom

9:00 pm

Helena stared down at the mess of red hair splayed out across her chest as she gently petted Barbara's hair. She had started out curled up around Barbara after they had finished making love, but gradually, almost imperceptibly Barbara had started to shift their positions until she finally came to be cradled in Helena's arms. They hadn't spoken for about twenty minutes, and if it hadn't been for Barbara occasionally stirring against her, Helena would've thought that the other woman had fallen asleep.

Helena's hand fell to Barbara's back, stroking the soft, milky skin there with her thumb idly. "Are you okay?" she asked softly a few moments later, her hand stilling as she spoke, before starting up again once the words were out of her mouth. It was strange, calm and stillness were regular characteristics of Barbara's, something she had come to associate with the woman, but it seemed different to her then. Changed.

Barbara moved against her with the petulant indolence of someone who had just been woken from a particularly satisfying nap and was undecided as to how they felt about the intrusion. The redhead hugged her more tightly wanting to make the moment last as long as possible, nuzzling Helena's neck as she held onto her, before finally, slowly lifting her head. "Yeah," she breathed out softly, her voice a raspy whisper as her hand drifted up to Helena's face almost magnetically, her thumb moving to trace the younger woman's full lower lip. "I'm very okay," she added, biting her own bottom lip for a second before her lips curled up into a naughty smile.

Helena smiled radiantly at that, her eyes holding Barbara's until she felt a blush start to come to her cheeks. Growling playfully, she snaked her hand around behind Barbara's neck guiding the redhead's head down so that she could capture Barbara's lips in a slow, languid kiss.

"I think," Helena started to say when they separated, a small self-conscious laugh following her words, "that I'm having trouble processing this," she went on, brushing a few strands of Barbara's hair behind her ear. She sighed then and let her head fall back onto the pillow as her eyes drifted up towards the ceiling. "I keep wondering when I'm going to wake up."

"I know," Barbara said gently, as she traced Helena's clavicle with her fingers, her eyes trained on her hand as it moved against Helena's silky skin. She couldn't remember the last time she felt this relaxed, so unconcerned and blissfully happy. Her mind was wonderfully blank, filled with nothing but a warm, enticing whiteness that seemed to wrap around her like a fluffy blanket making her feel safe and content.

"Do you?" Helena asked her hand coming to cover Barbara's, her touch soft but insistent as she stilled the redhead's exploring digits. There was a hesitance and a longing in Helena's tone that drew Barbara's eyes from where she had been studying Helena's creamy skin up to her face. She was surprised to find that Helena wasn't looking at her when she did, the brunette's eyes still focused on the ceiling.

"I've dreamt about you," Barbara replied gazing down at Helena, knowing the younger woman was feeling vulnerable. It was a tactic the woman had employed for all the time Barbara had known her. "Helena," she continued softly when the brunette failed to look at her. "Look at me, please," she said, her thumb stroking the side of the fingers of the hand that Helena still had covering hers. "I've dreamt about you," Barbara repeated when Helena finally tilted her head forward so that they were facing each other.

"What were we doing?" Helena asked. Her eyes were now focused on Barbara and she shifted up onto her elbows so that they were eye level, needing to see Barbara's face, needing to look into her eyes.

"Nothing nearly as interesting as what we just did," Barbara responded, a small but rakish grin coming to her face as her gaze lost its focus for a moment as her mind drifted back, remembering how they had spent the past four hours. "I'm afraid my subconscious showed a distinct lack of imagination … though I don't anticipate that being a problem in the future," she went on moving her body closer to Helena's, wrapping her arms around the brunette's waist and resting her head on her shoulder as Helena raised herself up further and leaned against the headboard.

"In mine, I wake up next to you, wrapped around you and the sun is streaming into your bedroom through the clock-face. I look down at you, and the refracted light from the glass makes your hair glow, as if it were on fire. Lit from above. It's always sunny, always warm, the sheets are always white, and every time it seems like the doorstep to eternity," Helena said softly her eyes focused forward, staring in front of her into what was visible of her living room through her open bedroom door.

She'd had more dreams of Barbara of course; different dreams of her over the years, but that one was both her favorite one and her most hated one. That dream was like having the sun shine directly on her, as if it was created simply to warm her body and soul, only to have clouds drift in front of the light when she awoke, leaving her cold and alone. It was a beautiful and vicious dream that always left her feeling conflicted and mildly confused.

That was the way she felt at the moment. There she was, holding a naked, happy Barbara who was curled up against her in her arms, playful and content and all that she could concentrate on was the horrible, cramping pain that had settled in her stomach as she began to wonder if things were going to end up like they did in her dream. She couldn't seem to shake the feeling that the rug was going to be pulled out from under her feet at any moment, just like it always was. When she had asked Barbara what she dreamed about them, there had been a hope in her heart that brought the lightness of possibility with it. But Barbara hadn't said what she wanted her to. She didn't know in words what she had wanted to hear, only that what Barbara said wasn't it.

'Love. So much … for you,' that was what Barbara had said earlier. Not that she was in love with her, just that she felt a lot of love for her. All she had admitted to was a love, and an attraction. 'I realized that the thing that scared me the most wasn't my feelings, but the thought of losing you.' The last five words swirled around in Helena's head taunting her, cackling in her ear, and poking at her mercilessly. That was it, the thought that had started to torture her. The thought that Barbara was trying to appease that fear, that she was doing what she needed to ensure that her fear didn't become a reality. Barbara loved her, and wanted her, and Barbara knew that she was in love with her. What if Barbara hadn't said she was in love with her because she wasn't? What if Barbara had only said what she needed to, to keep them both happy? Would it be enough, could it be enough for her to have Barbara's body and affection but not her heart?

Helena blinked in surprise as she felt a pair of lips on her own, her hand automatically coming up to cradle the back of the head that was kissing her, her brain only registering the fact that a tear was running down the right side of her face when she drew Barbara closer to her and felt the slickness of it between the skin of their cheeks.

Barbara pulled back slowly, reluctantly from Helena when she became short of breath, her index finger lifting to Helena's face and catching a tear on it as the brunette blinked freeing more moisture from her eyes. She brought the finger to her mouth, swallowing Helena's tear as she considered the brunette while Helena considered her. She didn't think the liquid falling from Helena's eyes were tears of happiness.

"Why are you crying?" Barbara asked, her voice cracking as the euphoria she had been feeling since Helena had first hugged her in her living room – what felt like years ago – started to drain away. "That sounds like a beautiful dream," she continued softly, trying not to allow any of the anxiousness she was starting to feel to creep into her voice. Helena's distance, she realized came on the heels of her making a comment about the future, about making love in the future. Was that what had prompted Helena sharing her poetic but companionable dream of them? Had the brunette found her so lacking that she was having second thoughts about them already?

"I," Helena started, her words catching in her throat as she stared at Barbara for a long moment. "Are you in love with me?" she asked finally, sucking it up, pushing the fear away somewhere far down, to the flesh of her baby toe where it couldn't interfere with what her heart had wanted to know for so long. "I mean, I could beat around the bush … or not say what I'm thinking at all. But I'm in love with you, and I … I need to know if you're in love with me too. And I know that you don't like being put on the spot, and that considering our current state of undress and the way we've spent the last four hours that things could be potentially very awkward depending on how you answer. But I just, honestly don't give a flying fuck about that. I've been waiting for so long, and it's … it's starting to drive me a little crazy, wondering … not knowing if …"

"Helena," Barbara breathed out, relief flooding through her system at the brunette's verbal barrage, a soft smile working its way onto her face. Helena stopped speaking as soon as Barbara said her name, though her lips remained parted for a second as if she were planning on just continuing. However, she soon closed her mouth and directed her attention at the redhead, though she had a slightly confounded look on face. Barbara imagined she must've looked much the same earlier that evening when Helena had silenced her with a hug. "I love you," she stated firmly, feeling Helena squirm lightly against her. "And while it might have taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize it, I am, very much in love with you," she went on emphasizing the last six words, her smile growing with every word as it settled upon her how true they were.

"Yeah?" Helena asked, her hand coming to rest on Barbara's hip as she shifted closer to the redhead, her instinct to cuddle returning now that her nervousness had been soothed by Barbara's words and smile.

"Yeah," Barbara replied simply, her hand lifting to Helena's face to trace her thumb along the brunette's pouty lower lip. "I love your lips," she breathed out softly, not aware she had even spoken out loud until those lips she was so fascinated by curved upwards and Helena turned her head to the side slightly playfully pretending to nip and her fingers.

"You're cute," Helena commented amused by the look of focus Barbara's face as she studied her mouth. Barbara was sexy when she was being studious. Something about seeing that much intensity focused on something was extremely hot. "I like your nose."

"What?" Barbara asked blinking. "My nose? Cute? What?" she went on her russet eyebrows furrowing together as she tried to decipher what Helena had said when she was busy being distracted by her beauty.

"That about sums it up actually," Helena responded smiling, closing the small distance that existed between herself and Barbara and brush her lips against the redhead's briefly before resting her forehead against the older woman's, contentedly.

"Helena," Barbara started, her tone becoming serious as she pulled away from the brunette a little bit so that she could see her face. "I want you to know … I mean despite the fact that I'm deliriously happy and can't seem to stop touching you, I … want you to know how sorry I am about …"

"Barbara," Helena interjected, holding the redhead's eyes for a moment before dropping her gaze and shaking her head slightly. "Just … I know. I'm not going to pretend that I was thrilled about you reading it, but … this is good," she continued, her words coming haltingly as she thought about what she was feeling. "It wasn't just post-coital euphoria before, I'm … I'm glad it got out there. I just … it's done, you know. I accept your apology, and I'm perfectly content to get on with the kissing and making up part."

"Why?" Barbara asked, wondering if she would've been as forgiving as Helena was being about the whole incident if they situations were reversed. If she could've opened herself up to Helena so completely and put her heart on the line again as the brunette had done earlier on. She knew that she would've forgiven the brunette, that she would've been able to move beyond it, but she wasn't sure that she would've been able to do it so quickly, that she would've been able to comfort Helena and go out on a limb and take the lead as the brunette had.

Helena laughed lightly, a bright smile appearing on her face. "I love you," Helena replied easily, shrugging. "Imperfections and all," she continued leaning forward to brush her lips against Barbara's. "Besides, impulsiveness is a vice I'm rather well acquainted with."

"I," Barbara started, still not certain.

"Need to get on board with the kissing part of making up," Helena interrupted. "Or back on board I guess, since you seemed to be on top of things earlier. And by on top of things, I mean me," Helena went on, smiling widely as Barbara rolled her eyes at her.

"It's a good thing you cleared that up for me," Barbara replied sliding her hand around Helena's back and sliding closer to the younger woman, until she was practically sitting in her lap. "Your phrasing was so layered and subtle that the true meaning behind it would've plagued me for nights on end," she went on her hand now running up Helena's thigh, her movements seemingly unconscious though she was very aware of what she was doing and Helena's reaction to her touch. Halfway through her last sentence, Helena's eyes had dropped down to watch her hand move, and the brunette's beautiful bottom lip was currently trapped between her teeth, as her breathing began to increase.

"Alright Talky," Helena commented finally releasing her lip as she looked over at Barbara. "It's time to find a better use for that tongue," she continued capturing Barbara's hand and drawing it up along her torso towards her chest.

"Popsicles?" Barbara asked, leaning over Helena, her hand flat against the brunette's taunt stomach as she lay down on the bed, her hand resting on the brunette's hip, stroking the skin there with her thumb.

"Well, it involves licking," Helena said with a smirk that was soon covered by Barbara's lips.

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

Clock Tower

5:00 am

Helena cocked her head to the side idly listening to Delphi purr as she silently walked through the darkness of the clock tower. She and Barbara had returned to the lair shortly after midnight at the redhead's insistence. Upon arriving they found a smirking Dinah eating a Popsicle and watching the Daily Show seemingly waiting up to make sure her guardian got home safe and sound. The teen had only asked if everything was alright to which Barbara had replied that they'd managed to work out their differences, but Helena had caught a few knowing and down right sleazy looks being directed their way by Dinah after she and Barbara settled down to watch the end of the show with her, and she knew that the blonde knew exactly what they had been up to.

Helena continued to pad through the clock tower decked out in nothing save for black blazer of Barbara's that had been hanging over a chair near her bedroom door and thus easily assessable for Helena on her way out of the door. Making her way into the kitchen Helena ran her right hand through her hair to brush her unruly bangs out of her eyes as she reached for the door of the fridge with her left hand, the action stopped when she saw that her hand was full. Dropping her right hand from her hair Helena opened the fridge door with it but didn't look inside, her attention instead focused on the partially illuminated small black journal in her hand.

She stared at the journal for a moment longer and then turned her attention back towards the fridge scanning the contents for a moment before reaching in and removing two bottles of Perrier. She then twirled around and kicked the fridge door shut, the motion causing the back of the blazer to rise slightly so that the light from the fridge shone across the pale flesh of her ass for a moment before she moved out of range and towards the kitchen table.

Placing the bottles down on the table distractedly Helena turned her head to the side scanning the immediate vicinity, her eyebrow raising when she spotted a pen sitting by the phone just off to her side. Helena walked the few steps to retrieve the pen and then returned to the table and plopped herself down in a nearby chair, dropping the pen lightly onto the table as she reached for one of the bottles of water.

It had taken her about ten minutes to maneuver her body out of the circle of Barbara's arms without awakening the woman. She'd thrown her legs over the edge of the bed and was about to hop up and head out of the room in search of water when she'd caught sight of her journal sitting on Barbara's bedside table. She stared at it for a moment and then looked behind her and over the bed. She was sitting on the side that Barbara usually slept on. It was a queen size and Barbara being Barbara usually kept to one side of it unlike Helena who tended to spread herself out and roll all over hers when she was in it alone. She'd then picked up the journal almost absently and headed towards the bedroom door.

Picking up the pen as she placed the water bottle down, Helena then reached for the cover and journal and flipped it open. She began to flip through the pages one by one, scanning the writing but not really reading it. She hesitated in the flipping for a moment when she came to smudge on one of the pages, moving her thumb over to where the letters blurred rubbing it, it was a water mark. Lowering her eyes, she spotted a few more similar spots on the page she had been looking at and the one next to it. They were teardrops and they weren't hers. Barbara had been looking at these pages and crying.

Helena ran her thumb over the inky spot for a moment more and then continued flipping the pages until she came to a blank sheet. She brought the end of the pen up to her mouth and started licking the end of it absently as she stared down at the empty page.

After a few moments she began to scribble in then margin of the page as her mind whirled, the black zig zaggy motions giving her hand something to do as her brain worked. She kept this up for a few moments and then stopped suddenly her eyes focusing on the page once more.

…releasing a most exquisite perfume that pervades the surrounding area, lingering, clinging, leaving a magical … almost romantic atmosphere. Jade and ivory, could you imagine something more beautiful … a fragrance more intoxicating than what is left by that deep green and pale flawlessness?

Gardenias … a versatile plant, they don't know what they want to be. Why choose? Today it could be a screen, tomorrow a hedge or maybe a border, and next week perhaps a ground cover.

But what makes it bloom?

Time, care … love. Gardenias, they can be problematic at times, difficult flowers, high maintenance. They're not very mindful at all. They'll take their own sweet time to open up and once they do they can be challenging to keep.

What makes them special?

They're tough sons of bitches. They'll grow throughout most of the season, full sun, partial shade, shifting shade and they'll be all right. Hell, even prolonged shade won't kill them, won't make them rot. It'll only slow them down a bit, make them work a bit harder for a little bit less.

…if you love them they'll bloom for you.

Jade and ivory … that flower will open up for you and Mmmmmm.

She stared at the writing for a moment and then shifted her pen so that it was hovering over the next page. "It's funny…" she wrote, the black marks standing out sharply against the mostly white page, her pen still posed to write more. She stared at the words for a moment longer, and then shrugged and dropped the pen back onto the surface of the table. She ran her index finger down the spine of the journal slowly and then slipped a finger under the cover and flicked it shut. Scooping it up with her left hand she reached for the bottles of water with her right easily plucking them off of the table as she made her way back to the bedroom, to their bedroom she thought with a smile recalling the words Barbara had said to her before she had drifted to sleep.

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

The Next Morning …

Clock Tower

Barbara's Bedroom

6:00 am

Helena blinked sleepily, her heart rate increasing when she realized that her arms were wrapped around somebody's body as dozens of horrible morning after scenarios filled her mind before a familiar scent wafted up to her nose. Breathing in deeply her eyes closed and she pressed herself closer to the body in her arms. Barbara, she remembered, a smile spreading across her face as the events of the previous day came to her.

She pressed her lips against the bare skin of Barbara's shoulder, pleased to feel the redhead unconsciously shift backwards moving towards the heat of Helena's body in her sleep.

Helena buried her nose in the crook of Barbara's neck and shoulder breathing in deeply as she hugged the older woman closer to her body. She had always loved the way Barbara smelled. Actually, that wasn't completely accurate. She'd always been fascinated by Barbara's scent, and had over the years come to love it. Barbara's scent had always had a way of enflaming her passions, even if it was just a lingering one and the redhead wasn't even in her presence. It could generate desire, intense desire actually Helena thought with a smile. But it could also create a sense of comfort, like at that moment, or when she had been younger and was unwillingly to accept any obviously consoling gestures from Barbara but would still crawl out from wherever she was hiding when she was feeling really bad and orbit the redhead before perching somewhere near enough to feel her and smell her but not be touched.

She lifted her head up slightly, watching Barbara as the woman shifted in her arms, turning around so that she was facing Helena. Her eyes fluttered slightly, and she made a soft sound in her throat before mumbling something intelligible. Helena thought that she was about to wake up and that Barbara first thing in the morning was absolutely the most adorable thing she'd ever seen, but Barbara simply drew her arms around Helena's waist and settled back down into a fitful sleep.

Smiling for absolutely no reason at all, and for all the reasons in the world, Helena rested her head down on the pillow allowing Barbara's head to rest more comfortably on her chest. Turning her head to the side her eyes wandered over to the makeshift stained glass window formed by the bottom portion of the clock. Sunlight was streaming in through it, the orange tint of the window lighting the room up even more than it would've through a normal window, creating a fantastic, romantic glow throughout the room. Helena wasn't exactly a morning person, and normally being woken up by bright lights shining in her eyes wouldn't have been on her wish list, but she understood why Barbara would've liked it. Not only did the redhead have a maddening habit of naturally waking up early, but she thought that waking up in a warm, welcoming light that softly covered the room would've made it easy and somewhat pleasant for Barbara to get up and face the day.

Thinking of Barbara, her eyes automatically turned towards the redhead, landing on the beautiful red hair, which was spread out across her chest, tickling her skin in the most delicious way. Idly Helena stroked Barbara's hair lightly as the sunlight caught it, making Barbara's hair seem to jump and shimmer, highlighting the natural reds making them seem even brighter so that it appeared as if Barbara's head was glowing, as if it were on fire.

She stopped stroking Barbara's hair only when a sense of being watched came upon her. Automatically shifting her eyes towards the door she saw that it was still firmly closed. Shrugging mentally she began to return her gaze to Barbara, her eyes briefly falling upon the dark journal that once again lay on the bedside table. Barely stopping to look at it her eyes fell upon Barbara who she found looking up at her with an amused little smile on her face, one that grew into a full fledged grin when she started slightly having not expected to find Barbara awake.

"Is the coast clear?" Barbara murmured, her voice a bit raspy, and thus extremely sexy, with sleep.

"I'm glad to report that there are no dangerous men about," Helena replied smiling as Barbara shifted up to kiss her lips softly. "However," she continued as Barbara hovered over her. "There is a really, really ridiculously good-looking," she went on smirking as Barbara rolled her eyes. The redhead still hadn't forgiven her for making her watch that movie, though how Barbara could disagree with moisture being the essence of water, and water being the essence of wetness,she didn't know. "Darkly predatory, woman lurking nearby who looks mad, bad and very dangerous to know."

"Dangerous? How?" Barbara asked smiling down at Helena a little bit wolfishly. Helena smirked, it seemed that displays of book learning turned that big sexy brain of Barbara's on. She should have known. She was going to have to start reading more.

"She had a swarthy look in her eye. I think she wants to ravish you," Helena responded trailing a hand up Barbara's bare back, her blunted fingernails scratching the redhead's pale skin, causing Barbara's eyes to flutter shut for a moment.

"Really?" Barbara asked leaning down to nip at Helena's lip before kissing her deeply, her right hand coming to play along Helena's side, before dipping underneath the brunette to squeeze her ass, a move which drew a gasp from the younger woman. "Because that happens to be exactly my type."

Helena growled low in her throat and rolled them over so that she was crouched over Barbara. "Splendid," she breathed out, before leaning down to capture the redhead's lips in a deep, passionate kiss. "I've always enjoyed," she started trailing her hand down Barbara's stomach, her eyes never leaving Barbara's. "Playing with fire," she finished biting her bottom lip.

Barbara smiled and then reached up tangling her fingers in Helena's hair, dragging the woman's lips towards hers.

The End

Comments always welcome and greatly, mucho appreciated! Thanks for reading :D