Title: Missing

Author: Pink Rabbit Productions

Email: pinkrabbit@altfic.com

Archive: Pink Rabbit Consortium (altfic.com)

Fandom: BoP (Comic)

Pairing: Barbara (Oracle)/Dinah (Black Canary)



I'm warm, safe, content, and about as physically sated as it's possible for a body to be. This is the life, so good that I can't even begin to care about the hangover that really ought to be making me miserable at the moment. Oh, I can feel the headache, and my mouth tastes like a cotton factory, but who cares? I'm nosed into the softest, warmest, most inviting stretch of human velvet in the whole world. A few soft kisses and delicate licks confirm my memories that she even tastes incredibly good. Downright addictive.

A soft gasp, then her low groan vibrates the soft flesh under my lips. "God, Dinah, are you trying to kill me?"

Slim fingers wind more firmly into my hair, her breathing shifting, growing heavier and a little strained as I nuzzle deeper. Despite the hangover and the painful weakness, I can't hold back a chuckle. "We lived through last night. We can survive anything." I've lost track of how many times we've made love in the last few hours. It's not really a measurable phenomenon anyway. With men, such things were always measured in neat, obvious ways. With her, it's less defined because once our bodies were too worn to keep trying for that goal, we kept touching, stroking, learning -- total respite impossible in the face of the need for more contact. It ebbed, flowed, peaked again, interspersing exploration with sleep where we lay so twined together it was hard to be certain where one body ended and another began. And it wasn't just me. Twice I woke to the feel of her hands on my body, exploring my hair and skin, her eyes a searing shade of green as she ran her fingers here and there. Both times we wound up making love again, all slow and sweet, with almost as many laughs as moans. Now, that's something new, laughing while making love. For reasons I've never entirely understood, men don't handle it well when a woman laughs in bed. They always seem to take it personally. Personally, I like sharing a few giggles. Sex has its serious side, god knows, but a hell of a lot of it can be damn funny too.

Mmm, I think it's time to find out if the rest of her tastes as good as I remember. Yeah, that part does ... and that one ... those too....

"Mmmm, Dinah...." Her slow, sexy purr washes over me while her hand slides down from my hair, slowly massaging my upper back. "You ... are ... absolutelyohgod." The last comment comes out as one extended word that rises sharply with panicked tension.

Not a good sign. Neither is the way she grabs for the sheet, dragging it higher on her body. We're definitely not alone. Suddenly afraid for her safety, I stretch protectively across her torso, push up on one hand and twist to face the intruder, lips parted, more than willing to use the Canary Cry to protect her if need be.

With hair falling across my eyes, my first sight is incredibly muscular, black clad thighs. Oh shit. And who do we know who might fit that bill, Dinah. Oh yeah, Nightwing. Her boyfriend ... technically ex-boyfriend. Who probably isn't going to be wild about the notion that she's already moved on, even if he was the one to try the en flagrante delicto thing first. Guys can be funny about the double standards that way. He will probably beat the hell out of me and right now, I'm not sure I'm up to stopping him. Black clad thighs, black clad other things, black clad, incredibly broad chest.

Oh thank god, black bat symbol silhouetted on a bright yellow splash of color and long, black cape.

Nightwing doesn't wear either of those. That would be....


On second thought, judging by the grim expression directed our way, I'm not sure this is much of an improvement. A quick glance confirms that she's just frozen at this point, staring up at him with the sort of horror generally reserved for high school girls caught in the back seats of Chevies by their fathers.

When I look back at him, it's to find that icy gaze pinning me in place. Suddenly I find myself feeling bad for the boys from one or two scenes from my youth. Then those eyes slide on, touching on her while he shifts his shoulders, drawing his cape around him like a cloak. Damn, he's creepy when he does that. And he's not exactly Captain Friendly at his best. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" His voice is like a cold wind over gravestones, the kind that can cut through the thickest parka.

I can feel her stiffen, and turn in time to see her expression turn flinty, the flare of teenage mortification melting away and leaving the woman she's grown into in its place. "None of your business." Short, sharp, and to the point. I search her eyes, suddenly feeling the need for a little reassurance, but she doesn't look at me, instead reserving her full attention for her former mentor.

His answering snort is soft and quick. "Nightwing knows he made a mistake. Hitting back this way isn't the way to deal with the problems between you."

Between my arm and the blanket, she's pretty well shielded, but as I feel cool air on my back, it occurs to me that I'm a lot more on display. Fuck it. If there's anything he hasn't seen before, it's his problem. I wonder if he realizes her hand is on my shoulder, clinging to me, warm, soft, and trembling ever so slightly despite the way she's glaring at him. That realization helps buck up my own flagging self-confidence when she still won't look at me as she continues.

"What makes you think this has anything to do with D-- with Nightwing?" Well, that's one new piece of info. Whatever Nightwing's real name is, it starts with a D. I don't really want to think about how shaken she is to let that much slip given just how successfully secretive she usually is. Can't say I really care, but I need to do something to entertain myself while I'm sitting in the middle of the current cluster fuck.

"So, you're telling me you've suddenly decided you're ... what ... in love ... with her?"

Not really liking the note of sheer disdain in that last question. Okay, so I realize Bats and I aren't what you'd call close, but we've played together a few times, and he knows damn well I've done my fair share of time in the trenches. The hell if I deserve that tone.

"Whatever I've decided is ... I repeat ... none of your business."

I don't have to look back to know he didn't like that response, and I suddenly find myself wondering if maybe there was something more than just a teacher-student relationship between them somewhere along the way ... or if maybe he wishes there was. I dunno, but it seems like there's something going on here.

"Now, why are you here?" The question comes out flat and hard, but she can't quite leave it at that, and her voice twists with sarcasm as she adds, "Or did you just decide you needed to come bursting into my bedroom for the hell of it?"

"You're needed. Work." Speaking of short and to the point.

"Fine. I'll be out in a minute." As dismissals go, it's not even a little subtle.

His teeth grit and his eyes rake over me, but he doesn't say a word, just pivots on his heel and stalks out. Scary dude any way you look at it. "Babs?" I wonder if I sound as shaky as I'm feeling. Her fingers tighten on my shoulder and she looks down, her expression softening to show her nervousness.

"Sorry about that. He has all the codes ... that's why the alarms didn't go off." Green eyes slide away and she exhales a tight sigh, fingers sliding up into my hair. "I didn't think to ... just didn't think...." No, thought was not a big part of what happened between us, leaving me to wonder if someone as cerebrally oriented as she is is experiencing some major regrets.

Her skin's incredibly soft when I reach up to stroke her cheek and draw her head back around. "Are you okay?"

A quick blink clears her eyes of the start of tears and she offers a watery smile. "I've got to get out there and find out what's going on." That's not exactly an answer. "He won't wait long." Her eyes close for a moment, blocking me out, and when they open again, they're clear but unreadable, giving away nothing.

Okay, I said I'd do whatever she wanted in the morning. Time to stick to that promise and accept her limits, no matter how much I want to demand to know what she's going to do about his obvious dislike of what happened between us, whether this goes on, or was it just a one night stand between friends. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Clothes ... clothes would be good." She's still a little shaky, and a hand rises, briefly shading her eyes. "Just sweats and whatever shirt you come to first." A quick gesture indicates her closet and I'm out of bed and grabbing for things, amazed that she's stressed enough to ignore her own need for independence for once. It's a sign of just how bad it is that she even allows me to help her dress, though we're both oddly detached, touching each other, but showing no signs of the way we made love the night before. It's not until she's fully dressed and I'm helping her into the chair that her cool expression softens for a moment, the mask falling away and allowing genuine emotion to show in her eyes as she reaches up and strokes my cheek, then brushes hair back from my ear. "Trust me." It's a quiet request, softly spoken, and calm, not an overwrought demand.

I slip a hand into her hair, leaning closer, then kissing her softly. "With my life ... always."

Her thumb brushes my lower lip, stroking lightly. "Then trust that I don't regret last night ... I couldn't ... and I won't. Can you do that?"

Not easy since I know damn well that she's likely to get a lot of pressure from people she's cared about and trusted a lot longer than she's known me, but she's now offering the reassurance I wanted earlier. I can feel myself nodding before I have time to consider it. "I'll do my best." Her hand is warm and soft in mine as our fingers twine together without planning on either side. "D'you want me to go?" I hate the idea, afraid that maybe he'll be able to work on her, or that maybe she's ashamed of me, but at the same time, I don't want to make things harder for her.

"Maybe ... I don't know yet ... but if--"

Not wanting her to see how much it hurts to think of being sent away, I lean higher and brush a kiss onto her forehead. I don't want this to be any harder for her than it has to be. Besides, if it becomes a battle between me and the Batsquad, I'm under no doubts about who'll win. Dysfunctional Family Circus they may be, but they're her Dysfunctional Family Circus, and nearly as much her family as her father. "Don't worry. Just give me a sign ... and I'm gone." Pull away, Dinah, do not let her see just how hard this is. She catches my hand, not letting me escape so easily. She knows, or at least she guesses, and I don't know whether to be sorry or glad about that.

"Dinah, understand, I don't want you to leave ... but ... it may be ... easier ... for all involved." The words come in a strange, sometimes halting, sometimes quick, rhythm. This is no easier for her than it is for me. I have to keep reminding myself of that to resist the urge to go out there and tell Batman to go to hell, then drag her back to bed. Even if it weren't for the obvious personal issues, she, just like the rest of us, has a job to do and that trumps all else.

"Just let me know what you need me to do." I see her flinch at my tone. Despite my best efforts, I can't keep a hint of hurt and anger out of it. It's not her fault that reality can't help but intrude on her world ... and mine, but I'm human.


"You should probably get out there ... he didn't sound like he's in a patient mood." She's staring up at me, her eyes liquid though I'm not sure of the emotion. Hurt, fear, embarrassment, hesitance to face her mentor, or maybe some other emotion I can't even guess at. "Go on. I'll be out in a minute." She's dressed now, but I'm not.

She nods, takes a second to gather herself and then the mask slides into place, clearing her expression of any emotion except determination. Combat mode. Wonder whether she's planning on battling the bad guys or the bat guy. She doesn't give me any clues, just rolls out, leaving me in her wake. Wonder if I've just set myself up for the heartbreak to end all heartbreaks?

You've gotta stop thinking so positively, Lance. Just pull on your clothes, go out there, face him down, and do what you need to. You can get through this. She asked you to trust her that she won't regret what happened. Time to follow through on that promise.

By the time I'm dressed and reach her central command, she's deep in her work, moving as easily through her world as the most powerful superhero types move through ours. In her element, she's the equivalent of Superman when it comes to abilities; able to leap tall microprocessors in a single bound.

He, meanwhile, is looming over her, a very tall, very broad, very dense black shadow, eerily still except for the faint fluttering of his cape. It's not until I move close enough to be in range of her peripheral vision that he looks over, his eyes an icy cold shade of blue as they rake over me. Don't think I'm on his Christmas card list anymore. He's still looking at me when she glances over. Her eyes flick up, noting that he's not looking at her and her expression softens for just a second, just long enough to flash me a reassuring look before she nods toward the elevator doors.

My cue to get lost.


I can't resist the need to hold her gaze a little longer than I probably should -- long enough that he has to be aware that there's been some silent communication. Yeah, he got it. I can tell by the flinty look in blue eyes. He didn't like that at all. Then she's concentrating on what she's doing again, tracking the data streams and cutting me out ... or maybe shielding me -- I'm not certain which -- but doing something that apparently requires his attention because he's back to glaring at what she's doing.

Which leaves me to slink out, tail between my legs. Not my preference, but probably for the best. So, why is it I really wanna hit something so bad it hurts? Preferably something tall, all in black, and wearing a cape.

Just hit the damn elevator button and go, Dinah. Get the hell out of there before you do something really stupid like hit him or cry. Several long seconds later, I hear the elevator and feel the faint vibration as it slides into position and the doors start to move. Get the hell out of here, Lance, just get out as fast as you can. The doors slide open. Okay, I can do this. Just step inside, hit the button and go. You don't have to turn back. Don't have to put yourself through that.

"Dinah," her voice is husky and faintly tremulous, freezing my hand in position as I reach for the button to take me to the basement. "I'll call you ... when I can." I can guess what the quiet pledge costs her, and that belief is confirmed when I can't resist the urge to look back and see her uncertain expression and his dark glower. For just a moment our eyes meet, my look silently questioning. I'm suddenly hesitant to leave, not for my sake, but for hers. Not that I think he's some abusive asshole, but at the same time, I can see the stress between them, and I know there've been some pretty voluble disagreements in the past. I feel like I'm bailing and leaving her to face the fire alone.

She doesn't speak aloud, but her lips move, mouthing a serious encouragement. "Go on." Green eyes flick a quick glance at him, then look to me again, while no sound leaves her mouth, but she assures me, "It'll be okay."

Then my finger's on the button and the doors are sliding closed. I can't resist the urge to lean in a way that keeps her face centered in the narrowing crack between the elevator doors until finally my view is blocked and I'm moving. Headed straight down. Into the basement as luck would have it, which is probably where I belong given my current mood. Amazing how fast one can fall from the heights to the depths, and this little journey is just symbolic of that very fact.

Stop it, Lance. She asked you to trust her, and that is goddamn well what you are going to do.

Trust her ... even if it kills you....

You can do this....

* * * * * *

Four days. Four days of cooling my heels and wondering. Four days in which she only checked in twice, her voice quick and flat, just making sure I hadn't gotten myself killed, and letting me know she hadn't either. It's times like this that I really hate this business. I used to sweat and worry every time Ollie was out there working, and it's not relieving the stress any to know that one day it killed him. But no, no need to worry about that with her. She's up in her ivory fortress, well protected and defended ... only it's been breached more than once and maybe I should just--


Oh thank god.

"You there?" She sounds tired, worn, and a little nervous.

"Yeah, I'm here, Babs." I haven't taken off the two way earrings and necklace we use to communicate since I left the clocktower, afraid of missing a call. "You okay?"

Her answer comes out a soft, exhausted sigh. "Yeah." I can hear a faint squeak of wheels in the background, obvious to me now that I know the truth, though I used to ignore it or attribute it to a dozen different things, never guessing the reality of her life. "Just a little tired. It's been a rough couple of days."

"Anything you want to talk about?" I'm trying to be gentle, let her take her own time, and not push. It's not easy to just ask though. God, I want to see her again ... hold her again ... feel her against me. And I don't know what the hell I'm going to do if she doesn't feel the same way.

A long moment of uncertain silence follows the question. Both of us regaining some equilibrium perhaps, then finally she clears her throat, the words coming slow and seemingly hesitant when she finally speaks. "Actually, I was wondering if you could ... y'know ... come over."

For a moment, I can't breathe and can't think, eyes sliding closed, torn between relief and terror. She sounds stressed and scared. Could be because this is all so overwhelming and new, or maybe because she's about to let me down easily and doesn't want to cause pain. "Babs?" My voice is a strangled croak as it occurs to me that I'm not sure I can wait for an answer to the question. If she's just going to say, 'thanks and so long,' I think I'd rather just know now.

A moment's pause, then her answer reaches my ears, sounding nearly as tight and scared as I feel. "I-I've missed you ... I just thought--"

No debate after that admission. "I'm on my way." Grabbing things and running without delay, intensely grateful for the dangerously fast sportscar her money -- stolen from nasties worldwide -- bought for me because it means I can get to her that much faster.

Time is funny, running lightning fast sometimes, painfully slow at others. I'll never understand Einstein or any of the other high blown concepts that she does, but I do get the fact that time can be a very subjective concept. Right now, it's agonizingly slow, every stoplight an eternity, every jerk that feels the need to drive the speed limit a blight on the universe even though it's only a few minutes before I'm pulling into the clocktower's secured, underground parking garage. Another eternity follows during the elevator ride to the top. We're still connected -- I can hear the rhythmic timbre of her breathing, rougher and louder than normal -- but neither of us speaks, as though having come to some kind of decision there aren't words ... at least not the kind you can say over headsets. I'm out the moment the doors open, only to pause uncertainly, suddenly struck by the enormity of it all. My eyes find her as she moves away from her computer station, reaching up and peeling off her headset as she moves, silencing her connection to the outside world both symbolically and in reality.

My ear rings and necklace follow suit, clicked off and stuffed in a pocket. Don't need them now. Then we both freeze. Another step forward brings me that much closer, while she rolls a few inches and stops. Suddenly my heart's in my throat. "You've got a bruise." It's purple and a little swollen, marring the crest of one, finely-made cheekbone.

Her hand flutters upward, fingers just barely brushing the injury, her expression suddenly self-conscious. "Had a small confrontation."

My heart sinks. She's had a few of those before ... with people bent on capturing her, killing her, or worse. Then a far worse thought occurs to me. What if....

No. That's not possible. Still, the thought haunts me that maybe things between her and them escalated in some unpredictable way. Batman was pretty pissed off when I left and he's a guy with a temper and control issues. I can't keep the suspicion out of my voice as I move forward, kneeling in front of her, staring up into green eyes. "What happened?"

Spend enough time tied together as intimately as we have, and you learn to read someone. She knows me too well, and easily picks up on my sudden stress levels. I can see the knowledge in her eyes as they narrow faintly while studying me, reading my emotions all too accurately. "Ran into some trouble," she says carefully, then narrow shoulders dip in a hint of a shrug. "Not here. Was working on some of Batman's equipment ... and somebody got in." She's picking and choosing her words carefully in an effort to let me know what's going on, while keeping secrets at the same time. As the one who knows everything about everybody, she's stuck doing a lot of that. She frowns, still deciphering my suspicions until she comes up with the truth to her satisfaction. "It's not what you're thinking," she says at last. "They wouldn't."

Thank god. Relief has me shaky. "I was just ... I mean...." It's hard to explain how the mind can conjure so many fears when you don't know what's going on. "I was just worried about you." Remember to breathe, Dinah. "And I hardly heard from you...."

"I'm okay," the assurance is quick enough to leave me confident of her honesty and softly spoken.

Without thinking, I reach up, one hand resting lightly on her knee, the other moving on up to stroke her cheek. "I kept imagining things...." The admission isn't easy to make and comes in a rush that doesn't include an explanation of the myriad of fears that have plagued me.

Gentle fingers find my hair, stroking lightly, sifting through individual strands. "I'm sorry. I didn't think you'd be worried."

I know how dangerous this business is. How could I not worry? I know how she bristles when anyone treats her as anything less than totally independent. She wouldn't understand that it has nothing to do with her physical condition. I'd worry about her even if she was Supergirl. "It's just that I care ... y'know?"

Impossibly gentle fingers continue slipping through my hair, playing with it, twirling through the strands and combing them. "I know ... believe me, I know what it's like to worry about someone ... to worry about you."

Yeah, I guess she does. Plenty of times she's hung on the line, sweating my survival ... talking me through one difficult situation or another. And then I look up, staring into green eyes that utterly fascinate me. "Babs?" I can hear the uncertainty in my own voice.

A hint of a smile touches her lips. She's so good at reading me. Practice I guess. "I told you ... I don't regret anything." The fingers in my hair tug gently, pulling me up, my hands braced on the chair near her hips, until we're eye to eye and I'm leaning into her space. "Not a minute of it."


"He's not happy." Her eyes slide away from mine for a moment as she shields her emotions. "We kind of had it out." She takes deep breath, her determination to protect me from the truth evident to me though most people probably wouldn't recognize the subtle play of emotions. She isn't the only one who's picked up a few things during the time we've spent so intimately attached to one another ... and I'm not talking about making love here, I'm talking about hour upon hour spent talking, listening, passing the hours, and trusting one another as we trusted no one else. "He understands now ... that my life is my own ... and what's happening between you and I is none of his business." Her gaze meets mine again, the shields dropping in an instant. "He won't interfere again." Given his mood the last time I saw him, I suspect it was one hell of a knock down, drag out. And then her lips are on mine, moving slowly, drawing my tongue into her mouth. If I was the seductress before, this time it's her turn, and she uses her opportunity well, toying with me until we're both breathing hard and trembling.

"God, Babs," the gasping groan escapes my lips as our mouths part, and she tugs lightly, off balancing me until I'm falling into her, burying my mouth in the curve of her throat, one hand sliding from its braced position to the warmth of her shoulder. Over the last three days, I've wondered if I imagined how good she tastes. As it turns out, the memory didn't do her justice.

"I take it the lady approves," she breathes, her voice little more than a low vibration.

"You have no idea." But I want her to find out. Slim and strong, she arches into my hand when it strokes down from her shoulder, freeing the buttons running down her chest. And then my mouth is following the same path and the flavor of her skin is flowing over my tongue ... a delicious waterfall of velvety flesh. Fingers wind into my hair, her breathing growing heavy as my lips play over her upper chest. Not an easy or particularly comfortable position, but I don't give a damn. Even if it breaks my back, I want her here, in her domain ... so it becomes ours. Suddenly, I'm reaching past her and releasing the brake on her chair, then catching the armrests and tugging. I can't help but smile, well aware of the trust required for her to allow me this right with only a minor, vocal protest.

"Dinah," the soft, gasping squeal comes out surprised and confused, "what are you--"

"Just a slight change in location." Suddenly we're at her computer station, and I'm setting the brake again. Now would not be a good time for uncontrolled rolling, and a few minutes from now might be positively disastrous. At least if I have anything to say about it.

The next tug on my hair is firmer than the last few, bringing my head up until our eyes meet. "Dinah ... what are you doing?" Faintly impatient, even bordering on annoyed, the question comes quick and sharp. She can be such a control freak. If I didn't think it was so cute, it might just annoy me.

No words needed as I push the front of her blouse apart, and offer the kind of smile that's an answer even before I lean closer and let me lips float over her chest.

Her voice comes out somewhere between a gasp and a moan. "You've got to be kidding."

"Nope." I want her right here ... in her element. I love watching her when she's at her computer, her attention concentrated on whatever task is at hand. The fantasies I've had while watching her would keep the Spice Channel knee deep in programming for months. I can't resist the urge to slide a hand down and gather her skirt higher, stroking her knee and thigh, aware that she can feel some things at least, hoping she can feel this, and loving the texture of her skin.

Her eyes are wide, her expression a little nervous, her arms stiff as she braces her hands on my shoulders. "You can't seriously...." The words trail off as I continue to simply grin at her. "Dinah ... I ... it's...." She leans to one side, glances around me, staring at her computer, clearly not getting it. When she looks at me again, her expression is clearly perplexed, lips drawn into an O, two neat vertical creases between her brows, eyes faintly squinted. "Why?"

I can't resist the temptation to taste her lips, and drop a quick kiss, grinning as she stares up at me in surprise. "Because you're sexy as hell when you're at your computer."

My god, I've managed to strike her dumb. Now, there's a sight you don't see very often; Barbara Gordon silent, her mouth hanging open, staring in wide-eyed shock. Her total paralysis is almost as cute as the control freak side and I drop a kiss onto the tip of her nose, then the hand on her chest joins the one at her skirt.

"Dinah ... are you insane?" Her voice is a confused croak when she finally speaks.

"Probably." I'm honest enough to admit the obvious. God, she tastes good, feels good too. "But I've watched you so many times," I straighten, staring down into her eyes, letting the heat I'm feeling show, "had so many fantasies about you ... sitting right here."

Wow, that's twice I've managed to throw her enough to silence that normally agile mouth. Oh well, I can think of better things for her to do with it anyway. Like kissing. Kissing is good, though moaning isn't half bad.

"You're insane," she groans again, this time through the merging of our mouths.

"Mm-hm." Why argue the obvious? Particularly when I've got better things to do ... like explore the skin stretched over her hips, and ease my fingers under the narrow band of her underwear. Mmm, she felt that. I can tell by the tiny shiver that works through her upper body. "Crazy for you." Cupping her hips in my hands, I pull her forward in the chair. I'm still working on her underwear when she cups my face in her hands, breaking the kiss to stare into my eyes.

I can almost see the gears grinding between her ears, and her mouth works for a moment as she hunts for something to say. "We're at my computer," she says at last. I don't think she gets that this is a turn on for me.

"Uh huh." Back to tugging her underwear down, fingers stroking as I work.

"But ... uh ... I mean...." She shakes her head, the words trailing off for a long moment before trying again. "At my computer?" This time it's a question.

"Uh huh."

Her frown deepens as she considers my answer. Even though she's spent a fair amount of her life in black leather and neoprene, she can be a bit of an innocent. Imagine what she'll do when she finds out all that handcuffs can be used for things other than crimefighting. "What are you planning on ... doing?" she asks at last, the words coming slow and halting, her voice creaking ever so slightly.

"I thought you'd never ask." Hands braced on the armrests of her chair, knees nudged into the narrow space near her hips, I lean forward, my lips brushing her ear ... and answer the question ... in considerable detail ... smiling broadly as I hear her strangled gasps, and see the way the faint pulsebeat in her throat flutters faster and faster. Oooo, got her with that last comment. Still laying out a roadmap of all the things I want to do to her -- four days spent scouring the internet for ideas apparently paid off -- I slow down when reaches up and works agile fingers into my hair, then trail to a halt when she tugs my head back until our eyes meet.

"I ... uh ... but what about ... you?" The blush that slides along her cheekbones puts her in competition with her hair to see which is the redder, then it deepens a shade, and I swear takes the lead. Slim fingers flutter at my temple. "I mean ... I want you to ... to enjoy...." She trails off, not finishing. Yes, she really is an innocent. Rather ironic all things considered ... but also kind of a turn on.

"Don't worry," I can feel one eyebrow rising as my voice drops lower, "I promise you, I'll enjoy every ... single ... moment." I'm still kissing her when I get her blouse off and toss it aside, then tasting her throat and upper chest as I work her underwear lower. I'm clearly getting better at this whole undressing women thing because it's almost smoothly done.

"I ... uh...." She's absolutely crimson -- everywhere -- at this point, her chest rising and falling in quick, shallow pants. "Are you sure?" she asks at last, her voice cracking ever so slightly.

"Very sure." Somehow, the color manages to deepen another shade, though I never knew a woman could be that pink all over. Somehow I don't think she hangs out naked at the computers when she's online with me -- my fantasies notwithstanding. "I've dreamt of you right here so many times." I suppose it's kinda kinky ... well, not so much kinky as sorta fetishy -- though, I don't think that's a real word -- but I want to make love to her by the light of the computer monitor ... right here ... right now." Achingly aroused, I taste her mouth again, then pull back, the cheekiest grin I can summon twisting my lips. I know it helps her to see what's happening, and I love feeling her eyes on me. "Now ... watch." She's just staring at me wide-eyed, so I catch her hands and drag them up until she gets the hint and slips her fingers into my hair, brushing it back so she can see. Our gazes hold as I make my way down her body, kissing, tasting, exploring every inch of flesh as though it's totally new, even though just a few days ago, I traced all of this territory as thoroughly as I was able to. Hands at her hips, stroking lightly, then more firmly, playing where I know sensation comes and goes as I tug her forward in the chair, then unhook her skirt and pull it down. I'm just getting better and better at this stripping women naked thing. A few more tries and I might almost be kinda suave about it. As it is, I get a giggle or two, and I have to admit, I'm probably pretty funny. God, I love this whole being able to slide from laughing with a lover to making love without being afraid of accidentally causing insult. God, I love her. The fingers in my hair work deeper as I make my way lower, while her breath seems to roughen a little more every time my lips make contact with her skin.

Looking down I watch as I brush my fingertips over silky curls, combing lightly through soft hair, then pressing deeper. She's so soft, her flesh damp and incredibly warm as it envelops my fingers. A tiny hitch in her breath accompanies what feels eerily like a twitch, but I can't tell whether it's real or just my imagination. Strange as it seems, I think I've begun feeling phantom sensations on her behalf.

Sliding a little lower, my lips encounter faint rises and striations. Her scars. For all of the times we made love that first night, I'm headed to the one place we didn't really go. I think maybe it's the scars -- the idea of having them so in her lover's line of attention -- that has her uncomfortable. I tried a time or two, but whenever things were headed this direction, she tugged me back up until we were eye to eye.

"Dinah?" Stressed and a little scared, her voice reaches me, slides inside and touches a part of my heart I thought died along with Oliver. We're both still learning, both a little scared.

Moving my hands to her inner thighs, I press her legs apart, leaning closer, my tongue dragging along the line of the worst scar, the caress that follows an expression of so many things I don't know how to put into words, though I have to try. "I told you," I hear my voice, faintly muffled as it vibrates against her skin, sounding ragged and a little desperate, "to me, they're a reminder that you're still here ... that you're with me. Without these, there wouldn't be a you." I'm under no illusions about how close she came to dying. Yeah, the load that hit was designed to do what it did -- Joker special loaded it in hopes of putting her in this chair -- but that doesn't mean it didn't come close to killing her.

Her breath catches again, then holds when I can't wait any longer and slide lower still. My hands are shaking almost as hard as hers as I tentatively




A low groan vibrates through her as my lips slide over her skin and I drop one hand to her skirt, gathering it higher.




She's wearing a loose skirt, thank god, one that easily slides higher on her thigh under my fingers. God, her skin is so soft, so damn smooth it's like warm velvet.

































There have been times in my life when I seriously wondered at my own sanity. More than a few of them, truth be told. And even more times when I've seriously contemplated whether or not I'm cursed.

Definitely both.

That's the only possible explanation for what I find when I step off the clocktower elevator.



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