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Title: Long Time Gone
Author: Harper
Rating: NC-17 (my failsafeÖ besides, thereís sex)
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Pairing: Barbara/Helena
Archiving: This will be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm with the rest of my stuff. Kim is nice enough to house me.
Disclaimer: I donít own Birds of Prey. A whole host of people probably own them, none of which are me. I donít claim them, and I donít make any profits. This is merely for fun.
A/N: Okay, so Iím stuck on "Monsters". This is a little fluff/PWP piece that I wrote in hopes of getting unstuck. Itís in first person POV. The first segment is Helena, the second is Barbara, and the last is Dinah. If you think they sound strangely Southern, youíre probably right. All my characters end up talking like me. Itís completely un-betaíd, so all mistakes belong solely to me. Mentally correct them, and weíll all feel better. Blame this on too much Dixie Chicks. I stole the title from them, since it seemed to be their fault. Well, and it seemed to fit, so there was that. If any of them should be reading (and God forbid), consider it an homage. Please, because Iíd hate to have Natalie Maines be mad at me.
If youíd like to send feedback, Iíd love to receive it. All flavors are welcome. Iíll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com

XXXXXXXXXX

Indiscretions

Iím taking advantage of her. Iíll probably wind up in Hell for it. Iíve thrown out morals, principles, scruples, and all of the always annoying integrity I once barely possessed.

Right now, I donít care.

Sheís the one who asked me to come over. Said she needed to have a good time, to forget about the whole Wade debacle. Personally, I think she needed to forget about Wadeís parents more than Wade because I never really saw anything that interesting in him to remember in the first place. Of course, maybe Iím biased, but I donít think so.

I knew Barbara was a lightweight, but I let her keep right on drinking even when it was quite obvious sheíd more than reached her limit. But hey, she kept holding her glass out for a refill, and I canít really help it if Iím a fabulous bartender, can I? Just because they donít taste like alcohol-laden drinks doesnít necessarily mean theyíre more mix than liquor, but it wasnít as if I was serving her pure grain. Okay, maybe a splash or two, but not straightÖ

And, itís not as if sheís completely unaware of whatís going on. In fact, she seems to be really, really into it. She might not be able to say three words without slurring them into an unintelligible mush or be completely cognizant of her surroundings, but her hands and her lips and her tongue seem to be working just fine. So fine that Iím wondering why Iím even thinking about it at all, instead of just laying back and enjoying the feel of her lips wrapped around my nipple, because honestly, Iím really quite fond of the sensation. Oh, and with the teeth, itís even nicer. Sharper, but nicer, and Iím not about to tell her to back off. Bruises fade, but hopefully, the image of Barbara doing that wonít.

And, itís not as if she can help the fact that she looks so fucking sexy that Iím bordering on the edge of completely losing control. Looking up at me, usually immaculate hair mussed beyond repair, scattered wildly over her shoulders and dipping idly down over her forehead, normally sharp green eyes liquid with a highly combustible mix of the lazy indolence of arousal and the searing fire of passion. Her lips are dark red and swollen, shiny with our mixed saliva, and I think I might have accidentally ripped her shirt in half a minute or so ago, because the jagged, gaping edges are just barely pretending to cover the delicate mint lace of her bra and the deep, dark and all too appealing dive of her cleavage. Years of countless teen-aged wet dreams are coming true right in front of me, much better live and in person than they ever were painted across the backs of my eyelids.

What have I done? Iíve coerced her into mainlining liquor and turned her into a porn goddess, because staid, calm and always controlled Barbara does not look like that. She doesnít normally bite, either, but she is now, wickedly sharp teeth tracing a red-hot trail of borderline violent nips up the line of my neck. Just by looking at her, I never would have guessed that she was a biterÖ Guess you really canít tell. It hurts, I think, but then canít really decide because it also feels so fucking good that I might have just asked her to do it again. I donít think she heard me though, because sheís not doing it, is doing the exact opposite of it, and I think I want to cry.

Sheís placing achingly soft kisses in a straight line down the center of my torso, and I wonder idly when I got naked. I donít remember getting naked, but I know I am. If I wasnít, then how would I be able to feel the silky slide of Barbaraís skin against my own as she pushes her way down my body, the teasing tickle of soft hair dancing across my upper thighsÖ

My upper thighs?

I look down just in time to see a wicked glint enter her eyes before she slowly starts to lower herself, and with every ounce of strength I can will into my service, I lunge forward, catching her and holding her still with my fingers wound tightly into the soft hair at the nape of her neck, lips just inches away from my skin. I canít let her do it, though. Canít pretend that what Iíve done isnít wrong and simply go along with it because I want it so damn bad I can taste it.

Fuck, I want to taste her.

Want to but canít, and itís the wrong thing to think and now Iím all distracted and I donít remember what I was doing, and every single neuron in my brain just fired. Iím sure the thing just exploded. ThatísÖ thatísÖ thatís her tongue, and itís not supposed to be there. I was supposed to stop her, wasnít I? There was a moment when I sincerely tried to get her to stop, when I logically and rationally laid out all the reasons why we shouldnít do this, why sheíd regret it in the morning.

Didnít I?

And, oh God, but I canít believe sheís got her fingers there and there. This isÖ where did she learnÖ oh fuck it, thinkingís too hard. Iím giving it up.

This canít be me, the quivering, nonsensical mass of nerve-endings and desire masquerading as the girl writhing around on the bed, holding Barbara close with one hand, the other wrapped painfully tight around the steel bar at the headboard. I canít be the one crying, pleading, begging, and invoking the name of the Almighty, held captive by my own desire, spreading my thighs apart widely in a desperate offering, baring myself to her completely and leaving me intensely, insanely vulnerable. It canít be healthy to have my muscles tensing with that kind of almost painful strain, my abdomen and thighs and calves burning as my body contracts in on itself, drawing tighter and tighter and tighterÖ

And, oh God, but my heartís beating so fast I know itís going to explode and suddenly everything is silver, and if my back arches any higher, itís going to break. But sheís still touching me, and I canít take it any more, that delicious velvet sandpaper rasp against skin already rubbed raw, and she has to stop before I melt into the bedding in a boneless pile of steam and boiling blood.

I can taste myself everywhere. Iím on her lips, her tongue, and even if this wasnít supposed to happen, I canít leave her now. Thatíd be cruel, beyond downright mean, and itís my duty to make sure itís a night of equal-opportunity advantage taking. Iíll take the opportunity to take advantage of her, much as I did the opportunity to advantageously enjoy her earlier enthusiasm.

Sheís slick, slippery, drenched in sweat, the salty taste of her efforts filling my mouth. Such a contrast of soft, almost delicate, skin over the steel sinew of muscle, and I tell myself not to leave any marks even as my teeth clamp down, as I suck feverishly on a particularly appealing patch of skin.

Were those her nails? Fuck, that stung, four matching lines of searing fire, one set running along either side of my spine, from itís base to my neck. The not-so-gentle scratch makes me want to purr, and I need her to do it again. And again, and again, and again, so I growl a sound of encouragement and hope sheís learned to read my mind.

Where was I before she distracted me? Her breasts, thatís right. Just perfect for my hands and teeth, but the options drive me nearly insane and I donít know where to be or what to do because I want it all, and all at once, but it doesnít really seem to matter because I think sheís got something else in mind.

Shit, that hurt, and if she tugs any harder, sheís going to rip the hair straight out of my head. I get the picture, and want to tell her but itís hard to talk with my lips glued to her skin. Itís wrong to be grateful sheís so pliant, but I can press her legs upward, thighs nearly parallel with her belly, and she doesnít complain, doesnít even say a word. Those nails are back, raking across my scalp, and Iím surrounded by her. Her taste on my tongue, her scent filling my nose, her skin plastered to my own and itís the best trip Iíve ever been on. I never want to come down, donít want to lose the feeling of her clamping down fiercely over the fingers trapped in the deliciously warm, wet vise to which Iíve willingly surrendered myself. I want to crawl into her skin and stay, take up residence in the very essence of Barbara.

Fuck, sheís strong. Strong and just a little bit bossy, but I donít care. Iím a private to her General, more than ready to submit to her demands. But, she just wants to kiss me, and suddenly the idea seems like one of the best sheís ever had. Her fingers are on my cheeks, framing my face and holding me still, impossibly soft lips plundering my own, and I want to cry with the sweetness of it. Iím not a crier, not the sentimental type, but I think my very soul just melted into a puddle of love-struck mush.

She pulls back and I want to tell her, want to find the words to let her know the most important truth Iíve ever stumbled upon. So I do, my words as fervid and reverent as the pleas of a penitent.

"I love you."

I wait, silence condemning me, mocking me, and I canít look up and see the pity in her eyes because I know itíll break my heart and I wonít be able to go on living. Not when she doesnít love me too, when she smiles at me with compassion and kisses my cheek and thinks itís sweet I feel that way. I canít breathe, not with the silent laughter ringing in my ears, the unspoken murmur of her demurral. I want to pull away, but I canít go anywhere, my limbs defiant, mutinous. My skin protests, determined to savor every last second of this torturously exquisite contact even as tears come to my eyes, their unbidden presence shaming me.

But, Iím not going to do it, not going to lay there with my skin flayed open, everything I am exposed and raw, displayed for her delectation. Even if she is drunk, and probably wonít remember a single thing come morning, having the crushing weight of her rejection bearing down on me now is already more than I can handle.

So, I roll off of her, ready to perform my traditional post-coital vanishing act, not surprised but still disappointed when she doesnít make any move to restrain me, to keep me with her. ItísÖ itísÖ I canít explain it, what this feels like. Emotional seppuku without even the benefit of a razor sharp blade, and I can already feel myself moving into the shadows, darting down the dark alleys of my consciousness, ones that never have held anything good.

I look up, gathering together all my strength, mentally searching for the perfect good-bye, one flippant enough to convey my disinterest while still carrying just the right amount of venom, slyly designed to hurt. Her face is calm, bland, totally without regard.

With a snort of laughter, I ease myself back into the bedding, drawing the comforter up around our shoulders and reaching over to flick off the light.

Sheís asleep.

XXXXXXXXXX

Ramifications

Sweet Jesus, let me die now. My throat is parched, mouth dry as if it were stuffed with cotton, and my head might just be planning on imploding. Every single inch of my body aches, well, at least the parts I can feel. Bone deep kind of aches, almost like I managed to get myself into a barroom brawl. I feel so heavy, limbs leaden, every ounce of energy I should have possessed after a full nightís sleep conspicuously absent. Iím warm tooÖ no, hot. This is beyond warm. This is like being trapped in a furnace, and as soon as I manage to remember how to move my arms, Iíll push the comforter down.

Okay, so the comforter feels suspiciously like skin. Soft skin that Iím fairly certain is currently covering the lean back of the figure laying on top of me. Eidetic memory has its faults just like anything else, and apparently doesnít work quite as well when Iím drinking, but I donít really need it to remember who Iím going to see when I pry open my eyes.

Yeah, I was right. Ruffled reddish-brown hair, the sleek sweep of thick lashes and the arch of slim brows, arrogant even in sleep. Iím going to Hell. Straight there, no stops in between.

Itís Helena.

Helena, Helena, Helena, Helena, HelenaÖ who came to live with me when she was sixteen, who was almost like a surrogate daughter if not at least a reluctantly adopted sister, and now sheís naked. Naked and laying on top of me, and Iím more than thoroughly conscious of my nakedness which means thereís nothing keeping her naked skin from mine, which may explain why Iím so unbearably hot.

I slept with Helena.

Hell. Waiting on me. Lucifer himself is reserving me a seat, probably one of those fucking manual wheelchairs, the hospital kind. Because if Iím going Hell, I doubt Iíll do so walking.

I canít even say I slept with Helena. That seems too pretty, almost. Slept with makes it seem as if we angelically drifted off into the arms of Morpheus, a chaste kiss on the cheek before we turned off the light and kept a respectable distance between us so as to avoid any incidental/accidental touches. Thereís no distance between us right now, and if I did anything, I fucked Helena. Big difference there. Big, big difference, and for the thousandth time, I wish I could walk so that I could slip out of here and disappear before she awakens, so I wonít have to deal with what Iíve done. Unfortunately, itís kind of hard to sneak in my state. Yet another thing to add to the list of embarrassments I have to endureÖ traumatic morning-afters.

Oh shit, I think sheís starting to wake up. She is, because sheís turning sleepy blue eyes my way, a soft smile on her lips as she reaches up to kiss me. Itís nothing more than just the brush of her mouth against mine, but I freeze, terrified by what the small intimacy means. She expects something now, and I donít know if I can give it.

She felt it, my hesitation. I can tell by the way her expression closes off in an instant, hooded eyes suddenly veiled and unreadable. In typical Helena fashion, she doesnít say anything, just rolls over so that sheís no longer occupying my front half and sits up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Faced with her back, I wince. Eight fiery red lines sweep up the arch of her spine, and two uneven columns of crescent shaped nail marks bisect the back of her neck. Blue marks that look unsettlingly like fingers circle her hips, and Iím horrified by the sight of what Iíve done. Lose control a bit, Babs?

"Iím so sorry."

I say it without thinking, one hand reaching out to trail down the length of her back in a futile attempt to take it all away, but she hisses and jerks away from my touch as soon as my fingertips hit her skin and I wonder how badly Iíve hurt her. Only, it just takes a second to realize she didnít move away from my touch because her flesh was tender or sore or any of the number of things it could have been. She moved away because she didnít want me to touch her, and I fall silent, nibbling nervously on my lower lip as I struggle to think of what to say.

I fail to find anything.

"Sorry Iím here?" she asks roughly, and I cringe. Hurt, hate and pain are bundled together tightly in her voice, simmering on the edge of outright rage.

I shake my head no, barely aware of the fact that she canít see me, and wonder how I got into this mess. Sheíd come over, rummaging through my liquor cabinet in response to my failed cheery attempt to invite her for a casual dinner. Known me too long, I guess, to fall for my inadequately veiled self-pity. And, thatís what it was. Me feeling sorry for myself because Wadeís parents thought I wasnít good enough for their precious little boy, because I saw the world from waist high, because I rolled everywhere I went. Not that I could have married him anyway, or ever even have wanted to. But, I did like to pretend sometimes, pulling on the fantasy of a normal life like it was a $6000 sweater. Beautiful but impracticalÖ something Iíd never wear, at least.

So, that had been me, moping about because Iíd given in to the depressingly tantalizing temptation to think I was never going to be good enough, and sheíd sat down across from me, blue eyes painfully earnest as she whispered, "I think youíre beautiful, Barbara, and that heís a fool. If you were mine, no one would ever talk to you like that."

If you were mineÖ

It had struck me as odd that sheíd even say such a thing. If you were mineÖ Strange words to hear coming from her lips, horribly and oddly out of place, and theyíd hung there, almost congealed between us, a grotesque and fanciful suspension not unlike a museum curiosity at one of those ĎBelieve It or Notí kinds of places. If you were mineÖ Almost as if sheíd thought about it, had considered some alternate reality where she and I were together, not as friends and partners, but as lovers. As if the notion of possessing me wasnít at all a foreign concept.

I mean, she could have said she wouldnít allow anyone to speak to one of her friends that way, or just simply that I shouldnít have to put up with that kind of crap from people who didnít know any better, but she didnít. She called me beautiful and then she said it. If you were mineÖ

If you were mineÖ

I canít get it out of my head, even now. Of course, now I know for certain that sheís obviously entertained carnal thoughts in which I feature prominently. I hadnít expected this, hadnít ever really thought about it beyond a few fleeting moments that left me vaguely uncomfortable, wondering how the notion had managed to creep into my mind at all. Moments Iíd chalked up to the random independent bursts of outrageousness created for simple shock value by my subconscious, that nasty little creature that spent all day doing nothing more than devising concepts and images with which to terrorize me.

Maybe there had been something in my expression in the seconds after she said it, something welcoming, because after a flicker of indecision, as if she were actually taking the time to weigh out the potential consequences of her actions, she leaned forward to kiss me. She took her time getting there, though, blue eyes locked hesitantly with my own, vulnerable and questioning and not quite sure of herself, but sheíd done it anyway. And maybe Iíd been enchanted by it all, mesmerized by my ability to cause her such concern and trepidation, caught up in the surreal slow-motion detachment of the scene.

How weíd gotten from there to here was a much trickier proposition. Maybe my more primal side had taken advantage of my lowered inhibitions, because sheíd been naked before weíd even made it to my bedroom, my chair valiantly supporting me and a lap full of sinfully lithe and suddenly quite amorous Helena. And after thatÖ well, I donít want to examine what happened after that too closely, the images that spring to mind at the mere mental mention more than enough to make me blush. I do believe enthusiastic would be a fairly accurate descriptor.

Oh, my God. Canít escape it now. If only I could get drunk and forget everything I managed to do in my inebriated state like any normal person, this would be infinitely better. I hadÖ I hadÖ I donít even want to think about it. Some of the things Iíd doneÖ and to Helena! Iíd done them to Helena!

I can never see her again. Embarrassment, this is me dying.

Sheís leaving. Iíve been quiet for too long. Sheíll play this off like itís no big deal even though itís not. I know itís not, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a very big deal to her. And how do I know?

I heard her.

I wasnít asleep. I just didnít know what to say. I love you, too? I donít know if I do, so I canít say it. Canít say it and not mean it, because as soon as I do that, weíll be far worse off than we are now. I mean, of course I love her. I just donít know if I love her love her. Thatís a big step. Maybe bigger than I can take. Helenaís not a random somebody I can avoid, some phone call I can duck.

"Helena, wait."

Oh shit. Why did I do that? Now sheís looking at me in expectation, and I try not to let my eyes fall below her jaw, but itís so, so very hard. Did I leave that line of angry red welts and dark blue bruises down her throat? Unless she did it to herself, I guess I did. What was I thinking? It looks like it was feeding time at the zoo, and she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, I donít remember doing any actual thinking. That might have been the problem.

Sheís got gorgeous breasts. And really, not the best observation I could be making, now is it. Focus. Iíve got to focus. Iíve got toÖ well, they are gorgeous.

Pull it together, Barbara.

Sheís still waiting. Maybe I should have let her go, should have taken some time to myself to carefully plan out what I want to say so that I donít make any more mistakes.

Was this a mistake? It is if I make it one, I guess.

Sheís getting impatient. I donít know what to say. Iím so bad at these things. Can you hire people to take care of situations like this?

"I donít want you to leave."

My mouthís got a mind of its own, just running off and saying whatever it wants without checking with me first. Not that the results are all bad, necessarily, because sheís climbing back in bed with me, inching over gingerly, almost as if sheís afraid Iím going to kick her out if she gets too close too fast. Only, now that Iíve got her here, I donít know what to do. She looks so young, anxious and guarded and hopeful and scared all at the same time, her uncertainty a harsh contrast to the brazen confidence Iíve come to expect. This isÖ wellÖ difficult.

"I donít know what to say."

If thatís not the least helpful thing I could have said, then I donít know what is. Itís just vague enough to give her the impression that sheís about to receive a monumental brush-off, even if I donít think thatís what will happen. What will happen is still a mystery, but I can see sheís already preparing for the worst. Sheís stiff as a board, eyes looking down in an intense study of my bedsheets, adeptly avoiding me.

"Why donít you start by telling me what you want," she says softly, voice so small and quiet that it almost makes me want to cry. Now I just want to comfort her, want to hold her and make everything alright once again, which is not necessarily the best plan of action I could choose. Iíve got to think about this logically and rationally.

"I never expected this to happen."

And, way to avoid her question, Barbara. Make things a little worse, why donít you.

"Yeah, well, maybe it shouldnít have," she mutters bitterly, a deep frown settling over her brow, and I struggle to hold back a sigh. I need to do a little damage control.

"Iím not unhappy that it did."

This earns me a glare, indicating that it might not have been the best thing to have said. Come to think of it, as far as reassurances go, it wasnít necessarily the most effective.

"Well, youíre sure as hell not happy about it."

I shouldnít be forced to have this conversation while nursing a hangover. There should be some law against things like that. I can feel a horribly wrong statement just waiting to fight its way loose.

"Iím not in love with you."

And there it goes... Why not just slit her throat with a rusty knife? Iím sure itís equally as pleasant as sitting through what I just blurted out. In fact, I need to finish that thought, before she gets the wrong idea.

"At least, not all the way in love with you. Maybe a little in love with you, or half-way in love with you, but I havenít been thinking about the possibility long enough to be completely in love with you. I think that I could be, though, if you give me a little time."

Did I just admit that out loud? Was it the right thing to say?

Sheís smiling.

I guess maybe it was.

XXXXXXXXXX

Revelations

Barbaraís going to catch me, and then Iím going to be grounded. She probably canít really ground me, since Iím not her kid and sheís not really my parent and Iím not even sure that she does things like that, but if she did, Iíd undoubtedly deserve it. Its just that Iím a teen-ager. Iím supposed to stay out all night and get into trouble and steal kisses and coerce unscrupulous adults into buying me beer. Well, maybe not the last part. Iím not a big fan of beer. Maybe a couple of bottles of Booneís Farm. Or, if youíve got ten dollars, then four bottles of Booneís Farm. And, if you actually want to get drunk, youíre going to need the whole ten dollars worthÖ

Well, that was easy. I thought sheíd be waiting for me, that stern, disapproving look she wears so well just ready to make me feel guilty. Not that I have any reason to feel guiltyÖ

Okay, so Iím so totally lying about that.

Letís catalogue my sins. Not coming home, under-aged drinking, gratuitous use of a fake ID, sneaking off for a few quick kisses with Matt, sneaking off for a few a-lot-more-than-kisses with GabbyÖ

I think Iím blushing.

Thank God I could use Barbara as an excuse to leave at the crack of dawn. Iíve never done the morning-after thing with a girl, much less one who was my best friend. I think I kind of like it, though, and as soon as I go meditate about it and brood about it and dissect it completely, I might just see if I can try it again. Itís a big step, though, so maybe I should get some outside advice first.

That means owning up to what Iíve done, and I donít know if Iím ready for that. Barbara seems pretty accepting, though, and of my dual advice-giver options, is probably the best route. Maybe I should go ask her now, and hope that my emotional crisis will go a long way toward making her forget about the whole staying out all night without calling thing. What time is it? Yeah, she should be up.

WhoaÖ wait a minute. Maybe I shouldnít disturb her. Looks like Barbara got lucky herself last night. I guess she and Wade worked through whatever was going on with his folks.

Oh, yeah, they definitely worked through it. Thereís a trail of clothes from here to the door to her bedroom, some of them in less than pristine condition. Definitely some button ripping going on in here last night. Really Barbara, Iím surprisedÖ

Are thoseÖ Okay, somethingís not right here. Weíve got combat boots and leather pants, and Iíve never, ever seen Wade wearing anything like that. Are they Barbaraís? When did Barbara start wearing leather pants? The only person Iíve ever seen around here wearing leather pants isÖ

OhÖ

OhÖ Oh, I did not need to hear that.

Figures Helenaís a screamer.

THE END

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