If you enjoy the new fiction, lend a hand

Title: Belonging
Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Email: pinkrabbit@altfic.com -- feedback always welcome
Disclaimer: No plot, all sex, and that sex happens to be between two female characters who belong to all sorts of other people so if this is going to make you scream in horror, faint, get you arrested, get me arrested, or cause prodigious litigious action, please, for both our sakes, lower your stress level and mine, and just leave now.
Summary: Ummmm ... sex ... hopefully with some emotion thrown in for good measure.
Special Thanks: To the most caffeinated and cheerful of minions around for the beta reading.

Belonging

Half asleep, her body pleasantly warm and relaxed, Barbara jumped ever so slightly as chilled, nearly bare flesh slid between the covers to press against her back, and strong arms wrapped around her torso to cling tightly. Slipping an arm free of the tight hold, she reached back over her shoulder, ruffling soft hair and finding it faintly damp. "Snowing?" she exhaled and Helena grunted something incomprehensible, but confirmatory, judging by her tone. Barbara frowned ever so slightly, suddenly vaguely uneasy. Normally, when it snowed or turned cold, Helena was wont to grab a hot shower before coming to bed. Knowing Barbara chilled more easily than she once had, she was careful about that, though she always insisted it was just because she preferred being warm and wet to cold and dry when it came to sleeping arrangements. Barbara usually just raised an eyebrow at the oft repeated double entendre. Tonight it worried her not to hear it. Besides, she hadn't expected Helena in her bed tonight. The younger woman had complained about having an early shift at the bar and had indicated she planned on sleeping at her own place. She hadn't been there in quite some time and there was also some inference that new life forms might be growing in the fridge by now. She'd added a crack or two about Dinah getting suspicious if she spent yet another night on the couch, then signed off for the night, and Barbara hadn't expected to hear from her until it was time for the next round of sweeps. "Hel?" she whispered very softly, her voice echoing her worry. "Did something happen?" she asked when her lover didn't immediately speak.

This time there was an answer, but it was whispered against her shoulder and so muffled as to be incomprehensible. Instinct and experience told her the answer was yes, and the non-answer was no accident. Helena had two modes when it came to discussing the things she sometimes saw on sweeps -- let-it-all-hang-out, or total silence. Moderation was not her strong suit. Finally concluding a coherent answer wasn't going to be forthcoming, the redhead did a slow roll onto her back, sliding an arm around her lover's shoulders as she moved, one hand rising to tenderly ruffle dark silk. "What is it?" she asked gently as Helena shifted to accommodate the change in position, snuggling against her side and resting her head on Barbara's shoulder. Exhaling a soft sigh, the younger woman nosed into the curve of her lover's neck.

"Helena?" Barbara murmured, becoming more worried with every passing second. They were in a business that could blow up at the most unexpected times, and she suddenly found herself afraid something truly awful had happened. "What is it? What's wrong?" She felt tension move through corded muscles, then the warmth of her lover's breath on her neck and shoulder as she sighed heavily.

"It's nothing ... really," Helena assured her, lifting her head enough to peer into green eyes, noting there was little more than a tiny ring of color around pupils that were huge and ebony in the faint light.

Green eyes met blue, searching and hunting for answers in the way they often did. It was a kind of silent communication the two women had honed and perfected over the years that their relationship had moved from one of guardian and ward, to friendship, partnership, and finally to intensely involved lovers. Barbara reached out, fingertips just barely fluttering along the fine arch of Helena's brow, stroking lightly. "Not nothing," she disagreed quietly as she studied the younger woman's expression. Not the disaster she feared, but no, it definitely wasn't nothing. That was a something look in Helena's eyes. "Tell me," she requested, her voice soft and inviting while her fingers continued the gentle explorations, just barely grazing velvety flesh, brushing silky hair, then stroking an arched eyebrow.

Another soft sigh escaped full lips, then Helena ducked her head, burying it in the curve of Barbara's neck again. "You'll think it's stupid," she muttered, her tone adopting the faintly grumpy note it did when she was feeling embarrassed by her own emotions. Expressing anger was a total comfort zone for the younger woman, but when it came to anger or fear, she tensed and tried to hold back. Love generally preferred to express by beating any threats to the love in question senseless. Most people gave flowers or candy, Helena handed a perp over to the police.

Well aware of her lover's personality quirks, Barbara simply continued gently petting her hair, her voice a coaxing purr as she disagreed. "I never think you're stupid."

Pushing up on one elbow, Helena peered at her lover, one eyebrow raised high in silent disbelief.

"Okay, so the strawberry PopTart addiction confuses me," Barbara admitted, her tone wry enough to draw a smile. "But I wouldn't call that stupid ... just ... odd. Damn things taste like cardboard with a spoonful of jelly inside if you ask me."

Helena settled back down, smiling against Barbara's skin, her tone light. "Only the plain ones," she disagreed, their old argument comfortably familiar. "Not the ones with icing." She pushed up again, offering a smile that made Barbara's heart turn over and do hat tricks. "And sprinkles ... it's the sprinkles that really make the difference."

A delicate finger slid down Helena's nose, tracing the subtle bump that was the side effect of a bad break some years before. "Ah, now I understand. You never explained that part before."

A slender shoulder dipped in a hint of a shrug. "I guess I assumed it was self-explanatory," Helena murmured, eyes momentarily appearing to cross as she tracked the progress of the finger outlining her nose.

"So, what's really going on?" Barbara questioned after a beat, her fingers moving on to stroke the outline of Helena's lips. Her breath caught ever so slightly as full lips parted and sharp incisors nipped lightly.

"Who cares?" the younger woman murmured, her expression shifting, eyes gleaming the way they did when she was thinking about all things erotic, her smile seductive enough to make a eunuch beg for more.

It would have been far more arousing if Barbara hadn't been quite certain it was meant to divert her from pressing for answering to questions Helena clearly preferred to avoid. "Me," the redhead responded, a smile teasing her lips when she saw the aura of bravado deflate ever so slightly.

"Not gonna be distracted, are you?" Helena sighed, faintly annoyed by Barbara's refusal to be redirected from whatever mental path she was on. She could be remarkably stubborn that way.

Barbara stroked cupid's bow lips with the pad of her thumb then slid her hand lower to tease the tiny cleft in her lover's chin. "I don't think so," she admitted. Something was going on here. Experience told her it was important. Helena worked hardest to avoid discussing those issues that mattered most to her.

Blue eyes rose, touching on a nonexistent point somewhere at a theoretical distance as Helena gnawed on her lower lip. Barbara could be annoyingly unyielding when she was of a mind. "It's nothing awful or anything," she said after a moment as it occurred to her that she was probably worrying the other woman. Fingers brushed tenderly along the line of her jaw, just barely caressing.

"I'm glad to hear it," Barbara murmured, her voice the determined, faintly husky drawl that always sent a shiver down Helena's spine. She wasn't going to let go of it.

A soft sigh escaped the younger woman's lips, and they pursed as they came back together and she settled back into the mattress and the warmth of her lover's body. "It's just that I went back to my apartment, y'know ... and I went to bed ... same bed I've slept in a thousand--" Helena sensed her lover's doubtfully raised eyebrow without even having to see it. "Well, a few times anyway," she muttered, a flush crawling over her cheekbones as she was reminded that since moving out she'd slept at the clocktower more often than she'd slept at her own place even before they'd become lovers. And since? She barely remembered she still had an apartment. "And I was lying there ... kinda tired, hair still damp from a shower, bed all warm ... and I couldn't sleep." She looked up, naked emotion in her eyes for the briefest second before it was hidden away again.

Barbara's expression softened, the momentary glimpse into her lover's soul making her heart clench. "And?" she asked, fingers brushing dark hair back from Helena's brow.

Helena shrugged, then ducked her head to press a soft kiss to Barbara's neck. "And I couldn't sleep," she said very softly.

A hint of a frown creased the older woman's brow. "I'm not sure I understand," she admitted after a beat.

"Told you you'd think it was stupid," Helena sighed and nosed back into her hiding place in Barbara's neck.

"I didn't say that," Barbara sighed and turned a little toward Helena, denying her the ability to escape so easily. She rested a hand along the younger woman's cheek, gently drawing her head up. "I said I'm not sure I understand ... that was your cue to explain." Some days it was necessary to go back to the basics when dealing with Helena and certain emotional matters.

Blue eyes slid away, refusing to meet green. "I got scared," the younger woman admitted at last, feeling vaguely childish even as the words left her lips. "Scared-of-the-dark scared," she explained in an effort to define the fear that had suddenly plagued her, then whispered, "I mean not really scared ... but ... but scared of things that aren't real ... of losing you ... something happening while I wasn't here ... some phantom from your past hurting you...." She made a small, annoyed sound in the back of her throat. Barbara might be in a wheelchair, but she was more than capable of taking care of herself. In fact, worrying about her that way was only likely to tick her off. Besides, she was locked up safe and sound in the clocktower, guarded by a multi-million dollar security system, with Dinah sleeping right next door, and.... And Helena had still been scared. Unreasonable or not, she'd been unable to let the fear go. "And I couldn't sleep without knowing you were okay," she added, her voice very small and soft. She reached out, trailing a finger along the delicate arch of Barbara's collarbone, just barely touching, feeling the warmth of her flesh and the firm weight of muscle and bone. "Couldn't sleep without feeling you next to me," she added after a beat, the real truth finally coming out. When no answer was forthcoming, she ducked her head. "Stupid, huh?"

An affectionate smile curved Barbara's mouth and she trailed her fingers along Helena's cheekbone, then back into damp hair. "No," she said simply and tugged lightly to bring her lover's head up until their eyes met. "I sleep better when you're here ... and I'm glad you told me." She ducked her head, mouth finding velvety lips, kissing her in that slow, intense way that never failed to leave Helena whimpering, her tongue pressing past sharp teeth and stroking firmly.

In moments, Helena found herself on the verge of spontaneously combusting. She supposed that to look at them, most people would have just assumed that she was normally the sexual aggressor in their relationship, and as often as not she was. Then again her lover wasn't what most people thought. She was a puzzle surrounded by a mystery and wrapped in an enigma. Almost no one knew her beyond what face she chose to show them, and even Helena often doubted her own sense of just who Barbara Gordon was. Strangely, it was often times like this when she felt as though she was breaking through the walls the older woman kept around herself as a matter of long, ingrained habit. Barbara rolled closer, lying on her side, one arm braced on the mattress above the narrow line of Helena's shoulder, then a graceful finger trailed slowly down the brunette's upper chest. A shudder slid through Helena as a neatly blunted fingernail scraped lightly against the thin cotton that hid a suddenly tight and engorged nipple. Her answering gasp was quick and sharp, and her hips bucked ever so slightly, the tiny jerk a matter of instinct and biology that was totally out of her control. The other woman could do things to her with just a look. By the time it hit the touch stage, she was usually completely lost.

"You like that?" Barbara breathed.

"You know I do," Helena groaned low in her throat. She found herself mulling over the fact that while she'd been unable to sleep to the point that she'd gotten up and gone skating over the rooftops with damp hair in the falling snow, Barbara had been comfortably falling asleep in her own, very warm bed. Suddenly she found herself wondering if maybe she wasn't the only one who used sex for a bit of distraction to avoid things. "I ... uh ... are you glad ... that I came back?" she asked before she could think better of it, sounding not at all like the confident, kick ass woman most people saw wandering the night.

The question drew a tiny line between arched brows and Barbara stilled the slow caresses, her voice serious when she answered. "I hate it when you're not here," she admitted, wanting her lover to understand. "When you moved out, I didn't get enough sleep to worry about for the first few weeks ... months actually," she continued, her tone thoughtful, finger just barely making contact as she drew erotic trails in soft, dark fabric, well aware of the effect on the flesh beneath the thin layer of cloth.

Helena frowned, studying her lover closer as she considered that bit previously unknown of knowledge. "Really?"

"Really," Barbara said softly as though it was obvious. Green eyes rose from their careful perusal of slender curves to meet Helena's gaze. "I understood why you felt the need to leave ... and I didn't want you to feel trapped here, but I worried about you ... missed you like hell." Her nail scraped a little lower, ruffling soft fabric over the centerline of Helena's abdomen, and her eyes sparked at the tiny gasp the gesture drew. "And if I was dozing when you got here, it's only because I've learned how to sleep when you're not around ... otherwise I would've expired from exhaustion long ago."

That got a small smile that melted into a startled gasp as the gently scraping nail circled the faint depression where her tank top hid her navel. Helena swallowed hard, her heart slamming against the inside of her ribcage. "I like hearing that," she gasped, suddenly totally out of breath as the delicate brushes floated lower on her torso until Barbara hooked the bottom edge of her tank top, just barely easing it up.

"Do you?" Barbara drawled, intentionally stretching the words out, her eyes gleaming in a way that only ramped up the heat burning through her lover's veins.

Her head rocking back and forth in an unsteady nod, Helena reached up to curl long fingers around the hand over her stomach. "More than I can say," she brushed her thumb over the slender bones in the back of Barbara's hand. "Sometimes so much that ... that I'm afraid you don't feel as much," she admitted, a hint of frown creasing her brow. Sometimes she worried that maybe they were only where they were because she needed it, and Barbara had long made certain that she lacked for nothing. It haunted her to think that perhaps the ideal lover was simply part of the total crimefighting package the redhead supplied. One more thing to go with the computers, two way communications, and--

The exploring hand poised above Helena's abdomen froze in place as green eyes rose to meet blue. "You're wrong if you think that," Barbara said very softly, her tone bordering on solemn. Still braced on one arm, she leaned down, mouth finding her lover's, the kiss leisurely and seductive, drawing the younger woman in and not letting go. "I love you," she murmured without breaking the sweet contact. As she finished the softly spoken words, her mouth moved against the soft lips bound to her own, massaging while her tongue dipped inside to tease and stroke. A beat and then she spoke through the kiss again. "More than I ever thought was possible ... and I have for a long time." She felt a hand slide up and around the back of her neck, slim fingers working into her hair as Helena pulled back ever so slightly, breaking the hungry contact to gain the distance to study her lover's expression with serious intensity.

They studied each other for a long moment, each one hunting for and finding a complex array of thoughts and emotions. "Show me," Helena whispered after a long moment, her tone the contradictory mix of plea and command she did so well.

An auburn brow rose in silent question, somehow managing to convey a wealth of curiosity in a single gesture.

Helena's hand tightened on her lover's hair, fingers massaging her scalp, her touch bordering on frantic. "I need to feel your strength ... your power ... feel you really let go...." She needed to feel that wall fall and get to the woman Barbara kept hidden away from the world, the part of her that drove Oracle and had driven Batgirl, the part of her that wasn't a game played to fool the world into believing she was simply some mild-mannered high school teacher. "Let me see who you really are ... not just the mask you show everyone else." Sometimes Barbara was so buttoned up that it left her feeling a little uncertain. Her own emotions, tattered and torn though they sometimes were, were worn firmly on her sleeve. Any remaining privacy was only because they came so fast and furious and were often so contradictory as to make them completely incomprehensible. Corded muscles pulled taut and she pulled Barbara closer, until they were nearly nose to nose, hot breath mingling in the scant space that remained between them and flowing over soft skin. "I want the woman you hide away from the world ... even from me sometimes." It was suddenly very important to Helena to get past the barriers Barbara used to conceal her real self. Helena wasn't the only one who sometimes needed emotional cues. It was just that in Helena's case, the missteps were more a matter of inexperience. In Barbara's they were the product of long learned behavior.

Jade eyes momentarily seemed to glow before settling into a heated gleam. "The real woman?" Barbara drawled, her tone wicked enough to send a shiver down her lover's spine.

"The one I've been in love with since I was sixteen years old." Helena's chin jerked up and down in a shaky nod, heat flowering at amazing levels as she stared into eyes that glittered with confidence and a look of command. "No illusions," she whispered raggedly. "All of your strength...." She reached up to stroke the sharp cut of Barbara's jaw. "All of your power." She swallowed hard, uncertain what she was even asking for beyond, "I want to really feel them."

"And so you shall." A faint smile, then the hand on Helena's stomach rose, brushing the younger woman's forearm and guiding it up over her head. A moment later, she did the same thing with Helena's other arm, stroking quivering muscles very lightly during the journey.

"Barbara?" the younger woman gasped, only to fall silent as graceful fingers shifted to brush her lips.

"Shhhh," Barbara hushed, the sound little more than the tiniest of sibilant hisses. The arm above Helena's head shifted ever so slightly and a strong hand covered her wrists. Not with enough power to contain her in any way, but a gentle reminder, just enough to keep her right where she was when she might have pulled her arms down. Then tender fingers were stroking the younger woman's cheek, drawing her head around until their eyes met again before moving on, brushing the blankets back to reveal slim curves.

"But--" Helena began only to find herself hushed again, the sound gently chastising.

"No talking," Barbara breathed, her voice almost disappearing as it melded with the surrounding darkness. And then she was kissing, the kind of kisses Helena had dreamed about since she was old enough to know that such things existed; the kind that were a form of making love all on their own. Warm lips whispered over her own, fluttered, teased, then pressed more firmly in an ambling caress, quickly moving beyond the scope of any youthful fantasies with deliberate skill. Her heart roaring in her chest, it took all of the younger woman's willpower not to yank her arms down and grab, but it was what she'd asked for. What she wanted. For just a moment, it felt like she was sixteen again and finally living all those teenaged fantasies that had constantly painted themselves on her inner eyelids, tormented her during restless hours of sleep, and generally made her even crazier than she already was. God, she'd wanted this without even knowing it. Or maybe she'd known and simply given way to expectations that she was the aggressive one.

Continuing the silky, oral caresses, Barbara trailed her free hand over Helena's upper torso, stroking lightly here, scraping a nail there, always moving but never in a predictable pattern, finding well known erogenous zones, and inventing all new ones until Helena was shifting restlessly, muscles flexing and twitching, tiny, wanton sounds escaping her lips at random intervals. Breaking the kiss, Barbara trailed her lips down her lover's throat, layering soft kisses and tiny bites onto sensitive flesh.

"Barbara," the brunette moaned low in her throat when she couldn't take it any longer, "please...." Her body was on fire, the ache spreading outward from the apex of physical pleasure in pulsing waves. Sharp teeth nipped the point of her chin, soft laughter vibrating her flesh, while blunted fingernails scraped her belly lightly as they brushed the bottom edge of her tank top higher on her body. Barbara hadn't even gotten to any of the really major erotic high points and she was ready to explode. She suddenly wondered if maybe she'd bitten off more than she could chew, and her survival seemed vaguely in question. A fingernail ran a circular pattern around her navel, the caress sending a fresh blast of heat through the younger woman. Oh well, it would be a hell of a way to go.

The redhead pushed up on her elbow, very possibly the sexiest smile Helena had ever seen curving full lips. "Shhhh," she hushed again and her fingers rose to brush her lover's mouth, silencing her. "I said no talking." She leaned down, kissing Helena again, drinking in her lover's soft whimper as she found the bottom edge of her tank and started to tug upward. In an instant, she pushed up on her elbow and wrenched the lightweight garment free, then hurled it aside. Green eyes glowed as though lit from behind as they fell on every inch of well-loved flesh, touching everywhere, studying perfect curves and gleaming with appreciation. She reached out, resting her hand over Helena's chest, feeling the beat of her heart. "You're so beautiful," she breathed, then continued the rambling journey with her hand, fingertips just barely grazing soft flesh as she traced a line down the center of her lover's sternum, then broke to the left and trailed along the undercurve of a firm breast. "So soft." And then her mouth was sliding lower, brushing delicate caresses along the graceful line that marked her lover's collarbone, pressing kisses to her upper chest.

Helena dug her hands into the sheets, clutching tightly to keep from grabbing what she really wanted, as warm lips explored and caressed and a gentle hand teased and stroked. Then Barbara's lips wrapped around a taut nipple, the faint roughness of her tongue laving puckered flesh.

"And yet just hard enough in all the right places," the redhead drawled, then swirled her tongue around the swollen coral tip while her fingertip swept around her navel in steadily tighter concentric circles. She looked up, the clarity of her gaze holding Helena captive. She understood completely. She'd been right where Helena was, wanting to be overwhelmed, to feel the other woman's need as well as her passion. It sent a heady sense of her own mastery through her. "You're hurting, aren't you, love?"

"God, yes," the younger woman whimpered, her body a riot of sensation and lust, all of it screaming for more sensation and some level of completion. She'd die without it, she decided right then and there, simply explode in a pile of flames and cease to exist. She needed the other woman that badly.

A wicked grin made its way across her lover's lips. "Good," Barbara drawled, enjoying being the one in command, and seeing her lover so lost in her passion. She loved it when Helena was like this, desperate and in need -- in desperate need of her. She slid her hand down, her smile only becoming more evil as she brushed Helena's inner thigh very lightly and heard the tiny, high pitched gasp the brunette couldn't contain. Muscles quivered under her light touch and she guided slim legs farther apart, then Barbara reached down, hooking a hand under her own thigh and carefully lifting it over Helena's, so that her leg settled between her lover's. Her whole body was momentarily lifted as Helena bucked beneath her, trying to grind into the promised source of sensation. Braced on one elbow, Barbara reached up, stroking the outline of her lover's mouth, her voice soft and soothing. "Shhh, shhhh, baby ... it's okay." Lips worked against her fingers and teeth scraped, ruffling the faint whorls of her fingerprints. "Soon," she promised, then shifted so she was draped over her lover's body, hands braced on the mattress on either side of Helena's torso, shoulders taut as she held most of her weight. Her eyes full of promise, she ducked her head and fluttered silky kisses into the hollow between firm breasts, then swirled her tongue against warm velvet. Her eyes locked with violet orbs, she pressed another soft kiss, then slid a little lower, riding with the body that bucked once more beneath her own, smiling as Helena's arms and shoulders rippled with incredible tension. "You know what I'm going to do for you, don't you?" she breathed, her voice full of raw, sweet promise.

Helena fought the urge to snap her head back into the mattress in order to hold her lover's gaze. "I know what I'm hoping," she admitted, but in turning this side of Barbara loose, she was far from certain what course she might choose. Barbara could be unpredictable when she dug deep into her secret self.

The uncertainty earned a hint of a teasing smile and another soft kiss a few inches lower on her body. "Mmmm," Barbara's soft moan vibrated against her lover's skin and then her tongue darted out, just barely brushing along the faint curving striation that marked her ribcage. Her gaze rose again. "Well, whatever happens ... I promise you'll enjoy it," she whispered, then dropped her head and began fluttering more silky kisses onto perfect flesh.

Helena moaned low in her throat, fingers digging into the sheets, clawing so hard she was close to tearing the light fabric, then her hips bucked again, hitching sharply in the blind need for more contact as sharp teeth played against her hip. A beat and the roughness of Barbara's tongue soothed the area, creating an all-new erogenous zone in the doing. "Dear God," the younger woman moaned, amazed by how even the faintest touch seemed to accelerate her heart-rate and make at least a dozen unpredictable erogenous zones stand up and do tricks along with all the more predictable ones. "Please," she whimpered, helpless before the passion washing over her.

"Soon," Barbara promised again, purposely stretching things out, knowing the final result would be that much more intense for the delay. Given her head, Helena often moved almost too quickly for her own good, her body all eager rushing hormones in dire need, with little self control to take it more slowly and savor the experience. As in so many other things, she relied on Barbara for the self control part of the equation. Sharp incisors bit again, just hard enough to leave the smallest of red marks, then Barbara washed her tongue over the faint injury, tasting the hint of heat that came with the rush of blood to the area. Riding with the slow rise and fall of slim hips, she made her way along the neat demarcation of tight abdominal muscles. Then she dipped her tongue into the faint depression of her lover's navel, flicking and swirling with quick, firm strokes.

Helena almost screamed, hips and shoulders taking their combined weight as her back wrenched into a deep arch, a sharp jolt of thick pleasure radiating outward from the point of her lover's tongue. She suddenly found herself wondering -- with what little mental capacity still remained -- if she was capable of orgasm without any further stimulation. A hand stroked her hip lightly, then graceful fingers eased under the narrow band of her underwear while Barbara pushed lower on her body. She looked down as Barbara looked up, staring into green eyes that glowed with life and hunger, the simple play of warm breath on her skin enough to make her shudder ever so slightly. She wanted to reach down and touch, stroke shoulders that were slim but rippled with power, slide her fingers through crimson silk, and caress Barbara's cheeks and forehead.

As if reading her lover's mind, Barbara shook her head. "Not yet," she breathed, then dusted a kiss just above the edge of Helena's underwear, stroking with her tongue as she felt muscles jump and quiver. "But soon," she promised. Then she twisted her fingers into the soft fabric at Helena's hip, purposely pulling harder until she felt the seam start to give.

Pressure -- wonderful, intense pressure along her hip and lower back and bearing down on flesh that was already painfully aroused -- had Helena literally trembling, corded muscles flexing and rippling, feet bearing down into the mattress as she braced herself. Fighting the urge to grab, she tangled her hands into the sheets so hard that when she heard the sound of ripping fabric it was hard to be certain whether it was the result of her efforts or Barbara's. Then she felt the drag of cloth against her skin as her underwear was pulled away and a gust warm breath of air played over flesh too long denied. Barbara's then. "Thank god," she gasped, the words coming rough and unsteady.

Then Barbara pushed up on her hands, arm and shoulder muscles working as she slid lower, lips playing along her lover's pelvis, then teasing the top of a firm thigh. As she lowered herself again, she nudged her lover's knees farther apart, then tasted Helena's inner thigh.

Helena's spine came off the bed again as sharp suction pulled at tender skin hard enough to leave a small, red mark. As quickly as she healed, it wouldn't last long -- twelve or fourteen hours at most -- but she felt her pulse somehow find the energy to accelerate as Barbara purposely left the small sign of physical possession. A sibilant hiss escaped her lips as a thrill rushed through her. Aching, throbbing, so close she was caught in an agonizing level of pleasure, she could only whimper mindlessly, her hips lifting desperately to meet the lips that now made their way higher on her body instead of lower, zeroing in on the places she'd wanted them all along. "Please, please, please," she whispered, the words part plea, part supplication.

Strong hands stroked Helena's inner thighs, purposely drawing things out, making her wait for the careful touch that parted silky flesh, so that when that gentle contact finally came she was close to exploding, so sensitive that the warm breath that touched her most intimate flesh made her arch and moan, body heaving uncontrollably, writhing and silently pleading for more.

"I know, love," Barbara whispered, all the love and affection in the world in her tone. Gentle fingers caressed lightly, drew close to the very center of Helena's pleasure, but didn't actually touch. Their gazes locked and held for a long moment, then the redhead slowly ducked her head, not quite making contact, but silently promising so much.

For the briefest second, Helena was afraid her lover was going to make her wait even longer, and she wasn't entirely certain she was going to survive the delay. A moment later, she nearly came up off the bed as she was rewarded by the first, velvety kiss. Her breath came in unsteady jerks. Then it didn't seem to come at all as the rough warmth of Barbara's tongue stroked her and every single molecule of oxygen was simultaneously drained from the room. Dear God, how had she ever survived without this? She was whispering something -- pleas, Barbara's name, perhaps speaking in tongues. She didn't really know. She only knew that her lips were moving and sounds escaping her lips. The actual words were unimportant, and the meaning was incredibly simple and basic. More. That was all that mattered. More of the heady lovemaking, more silky kisses and caresses, more of the thick pleasure clogging her veins. More Barbara.

Rough, then gentle, quick, then slow, the sandpapery heat was everywhere and everything, every stroke sending a fresh jolt of electricity over her skin. "I love you," Helena gasped, and meant it. "Please, harder," she begged a second later and meant that too, her body sliding over into a state where emotion and physicality became one and the same. She'd always thought love was love and sex was sex, and having both at once might be nice, but it wouldn't change anything. So wrong. Impossible to fathom the depths of her wrongness.

"I love you too," Barbara whispered, the quiet avowal a caress all its own that twined through Helena, wrapped her up, spun her around and made her body beat from within. It was just that good.

And then she discovered it could only get better, just as she'd discovered before, but her brain somehow mildly fogged out when she wasn't in this state. She knew Barbara loved her and she loved Barbara, knew she loved this place only Barbara could take her, but sometimes, when she wasn't there, she started thinking that maybe she was imagining things and it couldn't really be that good or that complete. Nothing could be that good, right? Wrong again. Oh, so incredibly wrong. "Please," she whimpered for what felt like the thousandth time.

Barbara glanced up, allowing herself to enjoy the sight of her lover so totally immersed in pleasure. She was beautiful at any time of the day or night, but like this -- every perfect curve revealed, muscles flexing just beneath smooth flesh that gleamed faintly with perspiration, her eyes wild and pleading -- Helena was simply incredible, somewhere between an animal in the wild and an erotic painting as conceived by Caravaggio. She slid a hand up, spreading her fingers against her lover's heaving belly, feeling the flex and play of powerful abdominal muscles, stroking lightly and feeling them quiver. "God, you're beautiful," she exhaled, smiling as Helena looked down until their eyes met. And then Barbara was reaching, her expression a silent command. She heard the sound of ripping fabric as Helena tore loose from her self-imposed bonds in her haste, then slim fingers met her own, clamping down. She knew it was a risk. If she lost control, Helena could easily break her hand. But her lover didn't fail her trust. There was power in the hand that twined with her own, but it was tightly leashed and carefully contained so as not to cause any harm. "I love you," she whispered again.

The softly spoken words slid through Helena, holding her in their thrall and driving home the point that, as long as it had taken, this was where she was meant to be. She whispered her lover's name, the sound little more than a gasp, and held tight to the fingers interwoven with her own. More caresses and the sense of being entered and physically bound even closer rove her a little higher. She distantly heard someone calling out and had the idea that it was her own voice, but didn't really care. Only her bond with her lover mattered as the caresses continued, quick, firm, and sliding along nerve endings that were already torqued almost beyond bearing.

And then Helena Kyle exploded from within. Her head snapped back, vertebrae popping all along the line of her spine as it was wrenched into a severe arch. A low, keening cry escaped her lips in response to the conflagration that swept through her, so intense she feared it would leave her nothing more than a smoking cinder floating skyward. As the blast wave slid on past, she clung to the hand still bound to her own, using that link to haul herself back to earth and drag her lover back up the length of her body in the doing. Still trembling, Helena pulled her lover close to drink from lips that tasted of sex and a fine wine flavor that was Barbara's and Barbara's alone. With a soft, satiated groan, she rolled the other woman beneath her, bracing her weight on her elbows, forearms under Barbara's back, hands spread to cup her shoulders from beneath. She settled into the redhead's body, achingly aware of the remaining barrier of her lover's sleepware -- a thin tank top and lightweight shorts -- as she found a place in the hollow between warm thighs.

"Feel better?" Barbara asked through a soft chuckle when their lips finally parted.

"Not sure better is the word for it," Helena moaned and let her head hang from her neck, her forehead just touching her lover's cheek. "More like completely blown away."

"How appropriate," Barbara drawled and it took Helena an extra beat to process the double entendre.

When she did, she just moaned a little louder and nuzzled deeper into her lover's body. "I think I'm a bad influence on you," she murmured, smiling as she felt strong arms wrap around her torso and the press of slim fingers against her back pulling her closer.

"Mmm, all things considered, I think I should be the one who's labeled the bad influence," Barbara murmured, her tone carrying a note of pleasant, drowsy arousal that drew Helena's chin up. "Seducing my innocent, young ward and all that."

That earned a soft snort of laughter. "Well, I'm young anyway," Helena chuckled and pushed up on her elbows, grinning down at Barbara, "but given that I did the seducing and I think you were probably more innocent--"

"Hey," Barbara yelped and punched Helena's shoulder lightly. "I'll have you know that I am extremely ... er ... non-innocent."

That claim only widened Helena's grin and made her eyes spark with humor. "Mmm, such a wicked girl." She leaned down and kissed her lover again, tasting the lips that had given her so much pleasure. Exploring her lover's mouth deeply, she ground their bodies together, drinking in the soft gasp that resulted from the unhurried caress of flesh on flesh. "On fire yet?" she questioned as the kiss broke, hips still thrusting in a slow rhythm that created a pleasant friction between their lower bodies.

"I'm more of a slow burn girl," Barbara murmured, though her fingers dug into Helena's back, neatly trimmed nails leaving faint indentations in soft flesh.

Violet eyes gleamed. "So long as there's heat." Helena ducked her head to trail her lips along a sensitive cord in Barbara's throat. Well aware that the shooting had done enough damage that it took a lot more to get her lover where she could be with little more than a particularly vivid idle thought, she was always careful to take her time. But the redhead could and routinely did get there -- there and well beyond. She'd seen Barbara at the point where she was so lost in passion that her eyes rolled back, she couldn't breathe, couldn't speak, couldn't think, probably couldn't even get the technology obsessed grey matter between her ears excited about some new design thingamajig for the Delphi. For Barbara, that was a sure sign of being in deep. The woman could probably redesign the NASA computers in her sleep, and wake up feeling well rested.

Back arching at the shoulders, Barbara clung more tightly to the woman above her. "Definitely heat," she gasped, once again amazed by the way her body seemed to come back to life under Helena's influence. When they were making love, she could almost forget dead nerve endings and muscles that no longer responded. Helena thrust again, causing a pleasant erotic shock along nerve endings that normally offered only ghost sensations at most. With arousal came a sensitivity and intensity of sensation she'd once feared was lost to her forever. "A lotta heat." She groaned softly, head tipping back on her shoulders as Helena eased the shoulder strap on her tank top aside to explore the spot where her shoulder curved into her neck. The lean body above her own thrust again, firm breasts, flat belly, muscled hips and thighs creating a delicious kind of friction as they ground into the length of her body. She found silky hair with one hand, fingers sliding through the fine strands, ruffling them as she cupped the back of her lover's head. "How do you do this for me?" she breathed, faintly awed by the power the other woman had over her. She tugged Helena's head up until their eyes met. "Reach deep inside of me ... and make me feel like I'm everything I ever was."

Helena eased an arm out from under Barbara, lifting her hand to tenderly brush loose, red hair back from her lover's cheek, the look in her eyes adoring. "You're everything you ever were ... and more," she insisted with raw intensity. "Never doubt that." Maybe she couldn't dance the rooftops the way she once had, but she could still fight -- mentally and physically -- with a purity that often amazed the younger woman. And she was strong in ways that Helena often feared she could never learn. "You're just ... you're ... amazing...." She ducked her head, the intensity of emotion leaving her faintly uncomfortable with her own feelings. It was easier to focus on the sensual at times like this, when words simply failed her and left her awash in a sea of uncertainty. Words weren't her strong suit. She was better at beating people up. Toying with the neckline of Barbara's shirt, she finally snuck a look at her lover under the cover of thick lashes, relieved to find a gentle smile directed her way, and not laughter or mockery. But then Barbara would never laugh at her. Logically, she knew that, but there was always a part of her that was a little afraid of having someone make fun of that softer side she kept carefully hidden away from everyone but her lover. "A little overdressed, don't you think?" she murmured at last, and felt her heart turn over as the gentle smile turned knowing.

Lithe fingers brushed dark hair back from the young woman's brow. "Maybe you should do something about that," Barbara suggested, not pressing for a big, emotional revelation, knowing that more often than not, Helena's way of showing her feelings lay in her actions not her words.

Helena nodded, caught and held by the promise in green eyes. "Just what I was thinking." A moment passed and then she leaned down, kissing slowly, the brushing caress incredibly tender. Sliding one hand under the waistband of her lover's shirt, she rested her palm incredibly lightly on Barbara's stomach. She allowed herself a long moment to simply enjoy the warmth of her lover's soft flesh and the feel of taut muscle, absorbing the slow rise and fall of her breathing as she watched Barbara carefully, drinking in her gentle beauty. Sometimes it just amazed her that this woman could want her, could see past all the carefully constructed walls and barriers she used to protect herself, and find something -- someone -- underneath that was worth caring for. Barbara stroked soft hair away from her cheek, and Helena leaned into the light caress, so content she was close to purring. Finally, she pushed into a crouch and sat back on her heels, pulling the lightweight tank top up and over Barbara's head with her lover's help. When Barbara settled back into the mattress, Helena remained crouched, reaching out with a gentle hand to trail her fingertips over creamy flesh, tracing runs of firm muscle, then outlining perfect breasts and watching as they pulled taut under her touch.

Moaning low in her throat, Barbara reached up to brush encouraging caresses onto Helena's hands and arms, loving the other woman's tender side. A faintly callused thumb stroked the tip of her breast very lightly, then slid down, the slight roughness sending a shiver through Barbara. Slim fingers dropped lower, curving and easing an inch or two under the waistband of her shorts before pausing.

"May I?" The question might have seemed oddly formal to some, but Helena knew that there were times when Barbara was self-conscious about the scars left behind by the shooting and following surgeries, and she tried to be thoughtful of that. She had her own scars -- less visible though they might be -- and she knew what it was like when someone looked too closely at one of those sensitive points if she wasn't ready to deal with it.

"Please," Barbara groaned softly, breath catching as Helena shifted to one side, then eased her shorts off, every touch careful and light, the tenderness making her heart clench with love. She adored this side of her lover, the gentleness and care she kept locked away except when they were alone together. To the rest of the world her normal face was all caustic, barely-leashed rage, with an edge of raw danger, but at times like this, all Barbara saw was the woman she could be. A hint of a wry smile touched her mouth as it occurred to her that they were each incredibly drawn to the side the other kept tightly locked away. Helena wanted to see her strength and power; she wanted this incredible tenderness that Helena shared only with her. Then she felt the faintest flicker of sensation -- so slight it could almost have been her imagination except she'd become very sensitive to even the slightest cues from her lower body -- and glanced down to watch Helena trail a tender caress back up the length of her leg. She often found it more than a little astounding just how much it intensified the sensations when she could see the caresses. Seeing that light touch on her flesh just made it that much more real, and if it was only a product of her imagination, then she didn't care. It felt as real -- more real maybe -- as anything she'd ever experienced, and that was more than enough for her. Tiny shivers slid down her spine as she watched the shadowed silhouette of Helena's hand caress her thigh then hip, ambling into the range where sensation ran at normal levels in slow strokes and erotic patterns.

Blue eyes rose abruptly, catching the thin light that glittered in through Barbara's bedroom window and reflecting it back in a bright gleam. Helena spread her fingers against a slim hip, leaning on her other hand as she shifted her weight, body poised above her lover's. "Tell me what you want," she breathed.

"You," Barbara whispered, one hand rising to trace the line of her lover's brow, furrowed in concentration, while blue eyes were near black with need. She hooked her fingers behind Helena's neck, tugging gently, the move just enough to unbalance the brunette ever so slightly. Helena caught herself, but not before her body slipped a little closer to Barbara's. "With me ... where I can feel you ... all of you...." She outlined lips that were soft and swollen with passion. "... and look into your eyes and see your heart."

Helena swallowed hard, amazed to find the need already rising again, the trust in Barbara's eyes doing more to touch her than she would have thought possible. When they were together like this, the bitterness and anger that were always with her just seemed to slide away, leaving her more like the person she often thought she could have been if not for the violence that had invaded her life so many years before. "You are my heart," she sighed as she settled back into place between warm thighs, intensely aware of every inch of bare flesh touching her own.

Her breathing suddenly unsteady, Barbara slid her fingers up into dark hair, clinging tightly while she wrapped her other arm around her lover, sliding her hand down to spread it over the small of Helena's back. "I need you so much," she whispered, tone solemn enough to make it obvious she wasn't just referring to the obvious sexual connotation.

Need. The word rattled around in Helena's skull. Not just want or love, but need. For some reason she loved that word on Barbara's lips. Maybe it was because the other woman was so totally self-sufficient. Barbara loved a lot of people -- Dinah, her father, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Alfred. And she'd wanted a few along the way; Helena avoided thinking about that topic too much since she'd never looked good in green. But need wasn't something she normally admitted to. It implied a synergy to their relationship that warmed Helena, reached down inside her and coiled her love a little tighter, washing away the occasional fear that maybe their relationship was as much about Barbara looking after her, giving her what she needed just as she always had, as it was romantic love. But if that were the case, Barbara would have claimed love and caring. She would never have admitted to need. That was too tied in to her own hangups about her total independence. Braced on one hand, Helena stared down at her lover for a long moment, consciously dropping the walls she used to shield her emotions, letting everything she felt show in her expression.

As she watched the last of the remaining emotional barriers shatter and fall, Barbara found herself clinging even more tightly to her lover, drawing her head down until their mouths met. The kiss was deep and unhurried, both of them lost in the emotional bonding that came with the sharing of their bodies. Helena shifted, upper body pressing even closer as she slid one arm under Barbara's back, elbow braced on the mattress to support her weight. Powerful muscles contracted, drawing their bodies even closer, and the redhead's nails scraped soft flesh, encouraging the slow thrust of lean hips that sent sparks of heat through sensitized nerve endings.

Muscles rippling with controlled power, Helena slid her free hand down to stroke Barbara's breast, thumb brushing a taut nipple, fingers trailing along the outer curve of the firm mound. Her lover gasped softly, and she drank in the needy sound. Long moments later, she broke the kiss to trail her mouth down Barbara's neck to her upper chest, a low purr vibrating in her throat as strong hands tightened convulsively on her back.

Nearly lost in sensation, Barbara fought the urge to tip her head back or close her eyes, eager to watch her lover's efforts, utterly in awe of her beauty. She was like some wild panther, graceful and incredibly powerful, muscles rippling just beneath the surface. Helena ducked her head, lips flowing everywhere she could reach, leaving hot trails in their wake, while her free hand danced and played, then finally slid down between their bodies. As a side effect of her injuries, Barbara's body didn't produce the needed moisture as it once had, and Helena had developed several methods for dealing with the problem. At that point, Helena used the one Barbara found among the most erotic. She watched in fascination as her lover's fingers dipped into her own body, coating them in silky heat before spreading the slick moisture to her own flesh. Achingly intimate, the gesture would have sent a shudder through her even without the sensations that flared outward from the sensual contact. Barbara groaned, upper back torquing into a steep arch, hands clinging tightly, every functioning nerve ending on fire. "God." Then her nails dug into Helena's back as agile fingers found and toyed with the center of her pleasure, working aroused nerve endings to a fever pitch.

"That's it, love," Helena whispered, straightening to find Barbara's mouth with her own. Her own body was ripped up by emotion and sensation, impossibly close to a second orgasm, muscles working and straining for more. Fingers still dancing and playing, she thrust her hips a little harder, the full body contact sending fresh waves of pleasure through both woman, driving their shared arousal even higher. "Let go," Helena urged, her voice a thick, passionate growl. Strong hands dug in to her back, nails leaving shallow furrows in her skin in their desperation, and she saw a wildness to match her own spark and gleam in jade eyes as Barbara released the last tenuous hold on her self-control.

A nuclear blast furnace of heat rolled through Barbara's veins, coalesced as though it sparked from the tip of Helena's fingers, then flared outward in a shock wave that made her cry out and quake violently. The pleasure shouldn't have been as good, certainly shouldn't have been better than it had ever been before the shooting. And yet somehow it was. Then Helena's fingers stroked again, spreading a fresh layer of slick heat onto intimate flesh, and Barbara Gordon's body exploded, reality turning inside out in an instant. Fingers clenching in dark hair, she dragged Helena's head up until their mouths met, lips blending together in a kiss that made it hard to tell where one body began and another ended. She saw blue eyes shift, momentarily becoming feral as Helena lost control, heard the low moan bubble up from her lover's chest, and felt the shudders that suddenly rippled through the lean body wedded to her own. Hard to tell where one orgasm began and another ended.

During the moments that followed, time warped and flowed in some weird amalgam of sexual pleasure and the theory of relativity, maybe even a little quantum mechanics mixed in. Later, Barbara would muse on what she'd mentally dubbed the 'Helena Effect' -- though Helena would have argued with that title -- but at that precise moment, she was far too busy simply experiencing that overwhelming force of nature. It rolled over and through both women, wild, vivid, inescapable. And, like being caught in the ultimate undertow, it tumbled them until they were both breathless and disoriented, then finally slid on past, leaving them limp and desperate for air.

Muscles suddenly feeling like they were made from wet sponges, Helena let her head fall forward into the curve of Barbara's shoulder, so shaky she could barely support her own weight. "Oh ... my ... god," she groaned, so frazzled she was amazed she could string together even that simple sentence. The hand in her hair relaxed and began toying gently with the fluttery strands, a faint tremor still shaking nimble fingers.

"Mmmhmm," Barbara exhaled and turned her head to press a soft kiss to her lover's temple, her chest still rising and falling in deep gasps.

Helena waited a moment to catch her breath, then rolled onto her back, using the arm still wrapped around Barbara to tug her lover to her side as she moved. Suddenly aware of cool air on sweat damp skin and the uncomfortable chill that resulted, she hooked the discarded covers with a toe and pulled them up until she could reach them with her free hand. A moment later, she tugged the blankets into a safe cocoon that was theirs and theirs alone. That done, the brunette flopped her free arm to the side, lying sprawled as though she was trying to dominate as much of the mattress as possible.

Settling her head on her lover's shoulder while she draped an arm across her midsection, Barbara couldn't help but smile at the tendency. Very catlike, she thought with some irony.

"My God," the brunette groaned, distracting Barbara from her thoughts. Helena looked down, grinning as she met the redhead's gaze. "How do you do this to me?"

Responding to Helena's infectious grin with a smile of her own, Barbara ducked her head and pressed a soft kiss to a bare shoulder. "Mmm, I think you did your fair share of doing," she teased lightly, then settled against her lover, stunned as ever by the pleasant aftershocks still rippling through her body. "And I've given up asking how." That way lay madness. Somehow Helena coaxed her body back to life in ways she didn't even begin to understand and sometimes she feared looking at it too closely for fear of shattering the effect. Maybe it really was all in her imagination, and if it was, she didn't want to know about it.

Groaning softly, Helena rolled onto her side, reaching out with her free hand to stroke Barbara's cheek as the redhead's chin came up and their eyes met. She hooked a leg around a slim calf, drawing it between her own, her touch gentle and intensely protective. A slow kiss followed, then soft, satisfied sighs as the lovers held each other and simply enjoyed the company and closeness. Her touch tender, Helena brushed a few strands of hair back from Barbara's temple, smiling as the other woman reached up and stroked her lips lightly. A moment later, the redhead arched up, following the same trail her fingertips had blazed moments before. It was all pleasantly lazy, not particularly building up to anything, but simply a matter of enjoying each other. Finally, Barbara sighed softly, nuzzling into the curve of Helena's shoulder, breathing in the warmth of her skin, feeling totally safe and cared for -- totally loved.

Helena continued petting her lover's hair gently, brain racing in spite of her exhaustion and physical satiation, going back over all the thoughts she'd had during that mad dash back to the clocktower. Oddly enough, making love had distracted her from what she'd been thinking, but at the same time, it had given her the strength to speak up where she'd been nervous before. She pressed a soft kiss to Barbara's forehead, continuing to pet her hair in slow strokes. "Y'know," she began after several long, companionable minutes, "I've been thinking -- a dangerous sport, I know," she automatically riffed on herself, not so much before Barbara could get a chance as out of ingrained habit. She heard Barbara's faint sigh of disapproval and knocked the defensive sarcasm out of her voice with the silent reminder that it wasn't the time. She pressed another kiss to her lover's forehead, her voice softer when she spoke up again. "Anyway, I was thinking ... y'know ... on the way back here ... that maybe...." She trailed off, suddenly uncertain and wondering if this was such a good idea. Nervous tension coiled tight in the pit of her stomach, and she took a deep breath while her brain raced even faster with all her doubts. Maybe it wasn't such a good suggestion. Maybe better to leave things alone. Maybe--

"Helena?" Barbara prompted, her voice gentle, but firm enough to break through the brief surge of panic.

Helena blinked, came back to herself, and sighed softly. "Sorry," she apologized, then took another deep breath. She could do this. "I was thinking," she began again, slowed for a long moment, then continued carefully, "maybe I could move back in." The words came slower with each successive syllable, the pauses between longer in her nervousness. "...to the clocktower, I mean," she added, thinking that maybe her heart was just going to break her ribcage. Her eyes slid closed, the panic threatening to overwhelm her once again. She'd pushed too hard, wanted too much too quickly and--

Fingers tenderly stroked Helena's cheek, drawing her gaze back to the woman in her arms. "Helena," Barbara whispered, again breaking the momentary panic with the single word. "I've told you before ... this will always be your home," she reassured her lover. "You're always welcome. You don't even need to ask."

The brunette released the air in her lungs in a relieved sigh, then felt her breath hitch again as she realized that maybe Barbara hadn't quite gotten what she'd meant to say, or that perhaps she hadn't really managed to say what she meant. She considered quitting right there, taking the cowardly way and the spare bedroom, only to abruptly realize that wasn't what she wanted. "When I said move back in ... maybe I should have just said move in," she whispered after a beat, wishing she was better with words even as she spoke.

Barbara frowned ever so slightly as she worked to understand what Helena was getting at.

"In with you ... in here," Helena clarified, her voice soft and serious. When Barbara didn't immediately respond, she felt the nervous tension wrap a little tighter. "I've been thinking maybe it's time we stop ... y'know ... pretending that I'm just sleeping over on the couch...." Her gaze slid away, rising ceilingward as she found herself wishing that Barbara would say something, anything, even if it was only to tell her to go to hell. Well, maybe not the go to hell thing. Silence was probably better than that now that she thought about it. "I mean, I know we agreed that maybe it was best to keep the kid in the dark...." They'd both been uncertain about letting Dinah in on just how close their relationship was when she'd first moved in, both because they were uncertain of her, and because their relationship was so new that any kind of close scrutiny left them both vaguely uncomfortable. But the girl was family now. "...but maybe it's time we ... well ... stop hiding it." She stroked her lover's cheek lightly. "I want to come back to you ... not have to wait ... hide my feelings. Walk in the door and kiss you ... or just hold you ... look into your eyes, and not be afraid that someone will realize what I'm feeling...." She suddenly realized that she didn't know what else to say and her mouth was hanging open. She snapped it shut, then waited.

Barbara allowed herself a moment to process it all, the faintly panicked request catching her by surprise. She was comfortably certain Dinah already had a pretty good inkling of what was going on. Not only was the girl psychic, she wasn't stupid, and there were days Barbara was half convinced there was some weird unspoken contest between herself and her lover to find out who was the worst liar. They were both simply hideous on that front. Helena's wretched acting while pretending she was just way too tired to make her way back to her own apartment wasn't even good enough to fool the ladies of the local community theater auxiliary group. Barbara's efforts to explain away any sounds Dinah might have heard coming from her room bordered on the laughable. And then there was Helena's ever-favorite excuse that she'd just been in Barbara's bedroom so early to make certain the fittings on her bed were tight enough. Just pathetic. She didn't see how the girl could have missed the obvious conclusion.

She sighed softly. Scratch one problem. Which left ... the notion of Helena sharing her bed and life ... full time. Helena was a free spirit, and Barbara had been careful never to pressure, well aware that trying to hold on to the younger woman would only drive her away. She abruptly realized she'd taken too long in her considerations when her lover abruptly stiffened, pulling back ever so slightly, her voice a husky, emotional rasp.

"I'm sorry," the younger woman muttered. "Dumb idea. I probably shouldn't have ... I mean--"

"Helena," Barbara whispered tenderly, curving her fingers to the sharp cut of her lover's jaw, drawing her head back around when she seemed to be ready to jerk away. "Look at me."

Swallowing hard, the younger woman slowly turned her head back, then froze when she saw the suspicious glitter of green eyes. Hand suddenly trembling under the force of emotion, Helena reached out, fingertip just barely brushing the delicate lashes that underlaid those eyes, stunned when she felt a trace of moisture. She swallowed again as any vague hint of language vanished in an instant.

"I couldn't be happier than to have you here ... with me." Barbara felt a relieved tremor slip through her lover's muscles, and reached up, cupping Helena's cheek in her hand and drawing her head down to share a slow kiss. "I want all those things too." She kissed her lover again, smiling at the notion of touching freely, not hiding things away or pretending. "Want you here ... want to hold your hand when you come in late ... slide into bed and feel you there waiting for me ... look up and see you watching me, naked emotion in your eyes...." She kissed soft lips again, tasting them until they were both breathless. "I love it when you look at me like that." Sometimes that was all it took to make her pulse pound and her breath catch.

"Soooo?" Helena whispered, drawing the single word out.

Barbara smiled. "I want you here ... with me...."

"Where we both belong," Helena finished for her lover, and Barbara nodded, purring contentedly when her lover leaned in to share a slow kiss.

"Right where we both belong."

THE END

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