Title: The Hardest Thing
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Ratings: PG 13, I guess
Spoilers: the last episode (probably others too).
Disclaimers: I don’t own Birds of Prey or any character created by WB’s used in this story. I’m making no profit on this and wouldn’t want to – as it’s ‘borrowed gods’. This is for pure fun – and an entertaining way of passing the time when one is bored out of ones mind (although Mr M.D. is my own creation...).
Author's Notes: This series was sort of created as a response to Nailbunny’s ‘Kiss’ (great story!). I don’t remember much of BoP-details and the only episode I watched more than once was the last, so excuse any mistakes not in agreement with the series. Some events mentioned might be a little ‘off’ the original timeline to fit the story. The story is told in first person POV – you’ll figure who’s as you read. Also – English is not my first language, so please excuse any strange wordings or spellings.
Special Thanks: To Aeryn Sun for beta’ing the six stories in this series. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! J
Additional Note: The stories in this series are created as a ‘thanks’ for all the wonderful, exciting, sexy and purely entertaining stories on this site, which I have enjoyed reading. Just wanted to make a contribution: one should not only take, but give as well... Especially thanks to Aeryn Sun, Harper and Green Quarter (and all others out there...).
I know I shouldn’t watch her like this, but how can I not? It hurts me, watching – still I can’t tear myself from the sight of her red hair gleaming in the sunlight; from her slender hands shaping words in the air while she talks. From the sound of her laughter.
I remember – this is what I did when she went places with Wade. I couldn’t be with them for fear I would insult Wade and see the hurt in Barbara’s beautiful eyes, but I watched from a distance. It must be some kind of sadomasochistic streak within me, making me do this. Every touch Wade and Barbara exchanged was like a nail in my flesh. Now, seeing her in the park with this unknown man – who’s not as unknown to her as I’d like him to be – brings back the pain. It’s not as sharp anymore, but… sadder somehow.
I remember the jealousy driving me mad with rage and frustration. How it craved me and made me run like a wild animal through the night. Those were the days when I let anger control me, take charge of my life to avoid crashing headlong into telling Barbara the truth about my feelings for her. There was a time when I truly hated her for the way she made me feel, but in the end I turned that hatred towards myself. I hated me for lashing out at her, for the pain I knew I must cause her even if she rarely let me see it.
And all those things, mingled with the hatred for my father, for my mother for dying and abandoning me, for the way my mother died, for Barbara not telling me the truth about my mother’s killer… All those things I put in to the fight. I became a raving creature of the night; frightening like my father had been in his days, proud to be able to inflict terror and fear upon criminals. A beast beyond control. A wild animal without a leash.
At the same time, I was in someone’s control. Someone spoke and the rage was stilled; someone reached out and I was tamed. Barbara always knew how to reach me, always. She never let me cross the shady line between the dark and the light. What would I be without her? What am I without her?
I see her now, reaching for Mike and holding his hands. They seem so relaxed and intimate together. I feel a pang of jealousy in my heart, seeing them. It ought to be me sitting there by her side, I think. It should have been me sitting there.
There’s an ache in my heart. It feels as if I’ve lost her. I shouldn’t have left them, I think, but I know I couldn’t stay with them, listening to Barbara’s voice as she shares memories with this man. She saved a card and the flowers he gave her for several years. He must mean a lot to her.
I remember when I came across that wooden box; it was an accident and I didn’t mean to pry, but the lid fell open and I found the faded flowers and the card. It was a few years ago now, but I felt the pang of guilt seeing the affectionate message he left her, mingled with unexpected jealousy. That was before Wade, when I was still coming to terms with these strange, unknown feelings I had for Barbara. I imagined her sitting by the box, reading the message and caressing the faded beauty of the petals.
I thought I had repressed that memory, but not hard enough apparently. This Mike must be the man she couldn’t have. Sweet, never weep for what cannot be... The unrequited love she’s been trying to tell me about. And today… Today, when she looked me in the eye and held my gaze, caressing me cheek, speaking softly to me… She whispered my name once, just before Mike interrupted us – it was low, hardly audible, but I heard it. Her voice was like a caress in itself. She was going to touch me, to tell me something… And I thought… For a moment I actually thought she was going to tell me she…
I realize my eyes are flooded with tears. I turn away, fleeing from the scene. It’s broad daylight and nowhere to hide, but I run and keep running. There’s nowhere to hide, even in the dark of the night. You can’t hide from yourself – if Harleen Quinzel as my therapist taught me anything this is it. She was a psychopathic bitch, but she was also right. It’s strange that someone so evil could teach you anything. It’s strange… that someone as good as Barbara can bring you pain.
I’m running. I don’t know where – it doesn’t matter. And then I stop. I’m in an alley somewhere; it’s dark and moist – I see a rat scurrying off someplace, hiding from the daylight. An empty can falls over, making some noise. There’s an old man lying on his side with a blanket around his shoulders. I don’t have to look at him to know he’s dead. Lonely in life, lonely in death, I think, while feelings of compassion and pity well up inside me, and not just for this mans fate. I don’t want to end up like him – lonely in life, lonely in death.
I can’t go back. Those are Barbara’s words; she told me today, she can’t go back to the woman she used to be. And in that moment – watching a dead man, hearing Barbara’s voice within me – I know I can’t go back either. I’ve changed since Harley Quinn’s use of me. Since Wade’s death. The anger that used to control me is not there anymore – I have no use for it. I’m Huntress and I’m in love with the danger and the night, controlling the underworld and frightening criminals – this hasn’t changed, despite my lack of anger lately, but... I’m also Helena Kyle and I’m in love with Barbara Gordon.
I look up, towards the slight sliver of blue sky beyond the rooftops from where I’m standing, and breathe deeply, ignoring the smell of garbage and death. In this moment nothing else but Barbara’s face exists before my eyes. I have to let her go. Isn’t that what love is all about? If you love someone, you want what’s best for them. This man – Mike – I don’t know him, but he seemed to be a decent guy. Strong, intelligent – someone who could love both Oracle and Batgirl in one. She would be happy with him. I want her to be happy.
I look down, at the old man in the shadows. I need to let someone know there’s a dead man here. Maybe see to it that he gets a decent funeral – arrange for some flowers for him.
I turn around, leaving the alley. It’s broad daylight in New Gotham. Nowhere to hide. I don’t want to hide anymore. I’m through with running, fleeing from the past. It’s time to face the future.
It’s late afternoon when she returns. I’ve made myself some tuna-salad and toast, eating standing at the counter when she wheels in. The mere sight of her sends a shiver down my spine and creates butterflies with flapping wings in the pit of my stomach. She stops when she sees me, with an odd look on her face.
“You’re home," she states. I can’t tell what she’s thinking.
“Yeah, the bar will do well without me.” I checked in on the bar after my visit to the police – about the dead man – just to be true to my word. “Sometimes I think I’m this all fabulous bartender they can’t run a business without.” I grin at her and she relaxes.
“Yes, I know what you mean. It’s not like the worlds fall apart without us.”
She wheels in and I watch her closely for any sign of… What? I’m not sure. I do know my world would probably fall apart without her.
“Hungry? There’s some more.” She looks at me with a slight smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.
“You’re actually cooking again? What’s going on with you?”
I frown, feeling slightly insulted by her remark, but then shrug. “Just hungry – and with no Alfred around…”
“Yes, I see.”
I want to ask her about Mike, but she seems… tense. I feel quite nervous myself. I hate that feeling; don’t know what to say or how to react. I shouldn’t be nervous. I’ve made a decision and I’m going to stick to it. She’ll be happy with Mr. Mike.
“Um… how’d your date go?”
“My date?” She arches an eyebrow and I can see the slight amused flash in her eyes when she watches me.
“Well, yeah… He’s a real hunk.”
She laughs out loud, with her head thrown back. “Helena…”
I put down my plate and raise my hands in defence. “He was. He’s just what you need after Wade.” I wink at her. “I bet he could reawaken Batgirl in you.” Her laughter dies just as suddenly and she’s looking at me with an odd expression.
“Maybe," she says and turns her wheelchair. “He probably could," she adds and stops with her back towards me. “He did once, you know. I met him only two days before he got married. We did kiss, but that was all. He wanted to be true to his promise…”
“You loved him…” I hear myself say. I have to be strong. I’m going to be strong. I’m here right now because I know she knew I lied about the bar before. I know she knew I couldn’t stand Wade and that I pushed both him and her away because of my jealous self. I’m not going to let her down again. I’m not going to disappoint her this time. I want her to know that I’m happy for her.
I move towards her wheelchair. “This is the man you couldn’t have and he’s come home to you. Life has given you a second chance, Barbara. I hope… I hope you take it. You deserve to be happy.”
“You mean that, Helena?” She turns her head and catches my eye. I can only nod. “You truly mean that?”
“Yes, I do.” My voice is hoarse, but I hold her gaze. “I… I only want to see you happy, Barbara. I know I was an ass about Wade, but it’s not the same anymore. I’m not… It’s going to be different now.”
She doesn’t say anything and the silence freaks me out. I shrug and turn away, retreating to the counter and my food.
“He did ask me on a date," she says, turning her chair to face me. I stiffen slightly with my back towards her, but force myself to relax and nod.
“Great," I say, shoving some food in my mouth. Chewing I don’t have to speak, or look at her.
“What about you, Helena? Thought you were going to get lucky tonight…”
I almost choke on my salad, spitting it out on my plate. Were the hell did that come from? Then I see her face and the laughter in her eyes.
“That was repayment for my Pepsi today," she says, highly amused.
“Oh, yeah?” I don’t know what to say and she laughs, knowing I don’t.
We look at each other and I can feel the burning sensation in my stomach, causing me to grow restless. She’s watching me with a look I can’t place, with some kind of tenderness I don’t understand. My need for her grows and I… I turn around and throw away the leftovers in the sink. I’m not really hungry anymore.
“So, when is this date going to take place?” I say lightly. I don’t hate him; I’m not going to hate him… He’ll make her happy.
The door to the elevator opens and we both turn towards it on the floor below us. Dinah looks up, waving.
“Hi, guys. What’s up?”
“Dinah…” Barbara says, quite indecisive – I wonder what that’s about.
“Nothing much," I say, hoping – silently begging – Dinah will play along with me. I need her to humour me, to release the restlessness and the pain. “Barbara’s got a date.”
Dinah stops in her tracks, holding my gaze. She probably sees – feels even – the pain I’m so desperately trying not to show. Her eyes turn to Barbara.
“Really? Nice looking?” she says as she makes her way up to the kitchen were we wait.
“Very," I say laughing, not looking at Barbara.
“Dinah," Barbara says right then and there’s something in her low voice that checks us both. We look at her; I feel a slight, nervous tingle down my spine. “Dinah, will you arrange to stay with a friend tonight? There’re some things Helena and I need to discuss and I think we better have some privacy while doing it.”
Dinah looks instantly at me, but I don’t know what to tell her. I don’t know what Barbara’s up to. I wish I did, so I could prepare myself for it. I see that look in Dinah’s eyes again – compassion, but also an urging. She wants me to tell Barbara the truth. I shake my head slightly, forming two words with my mouth: “Not yet.”
“I’m sorry, Dinah," Barbara adds. “I don’t want you to feel…”
“No, sure. It’s all right, Barbara. I don’t mind. I know you two have some… issues, to work out. It’s cool. I’ll stay with a friend.” Dinah frowns slightly, looking worriedly at Barbara. “It’s nothing… serious, is it? I mean it’s not going to affect my whole life – me having to move again, or attending a funeral?”
I see the soft smile on Barbara’s lips – she brings comfort and soothes worries. Dinah relaxes instantly. “Don’t worry, Dinah. It’s nothing like that. Unless…” – Barbara adds with a sardonic glance at me – “Helena’s reaction to our discussion is to send me out the window, that is.”
“Oh, she wouldn’t," Dinah says brightly, with a grin in my direction. “She loves you too much – and she’s so much more grown up now.”
I blush, knowing this is Dinah’s way of getting even with me for all those hard times I’ve given her before. “I’m sure going to wring your neck, baby girl," I mutter.
“She is, isn’t she?” I hear Barbara say by my side in answer to Dinah’s comment, not missing the slightly amused glance she gives me.
“I’ll get some stuff together and then leave," Dinah says, walking away towards the elevator. “Oh, by the way," she adds, looking over her shoulder. “I met Dick. He asked me to ask you if you need him around anymore. Otherwise he’s thinking of getting going.”
“Thanks, Dinah," Barbara says, nodding. “I’ll contact him to discuss it.”
Dinah gives us a last smile before disappearing, again leaving Barbara and I alone. I don’t know if it’s such a good idea anymore, being alone with Barbara.
“I need some coffee," she says.
“I’ll make it.” I dart towards the machine before she has time to react.
“Sure, thanks, Miss Congeniality," she says sarcastically arching her eyebrows.
“What do you mean?” I pretend to keep busy with the coffee-machine, not having to look at her.
“It’s time you tell me what’s going on with you. You’ve been all…” She gestures with her arms for lack of words. “Nice, lately.”
“Well, thanks," I say, turning towards her, crossing my arms. “This is what I get for it? Sarcasm? You know…” I throw out my arms. “Screw it," I say, shaking my head. “It’s just not worth it.” Damn her. Damn Wade and Mike… Damn myself, for that matter… I’m heading for the stairs, passing her.
“What isn’t, Helena?” Her voice is soft, careful, when I’m at her side, breaking my stride.
I stop and look at her. She’s looking at me with… I don’t know. There’s a silent question in those beautiful, jade green eyes I don’t understand. It’s as if she’s trying to tell me something and I don’t get it because we don’t speak the same language.
“Look," I say, gesturing towards her, trying to find a way to meet her. “I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to hurt you…”
“I know," she says, still softly, still carefully. She’s still holding my gaze and the warmth in her eyes just seems to melt into me. Damn her! I think. Why can’t she just look away? Why must she look at me like that?
“Helena…” She’s reaching for me and before I can think I take a step backwards, seeing something turn in her eyes. It’s not pain, it’s not hurt… I can’t place it. It’s… just odd. “I’m sorry," she says, surprising me. “I shouldn’t tease you for being nice. I appreciate it, Helena. I really do. I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean for it the way it sounded. Can you please forgive me? I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
I swallow, not knowing what to say. How can I not forgive her while she’s looking at me like that? “Um, sure," I say. “I’m just… um, overly sensitive about my… hm, congenial side.” I flash her a quick smile, hoping she’ll buy my joke. She holds my gaze longer than I’d want her to, but then she smiles and nods.
“So you are, Huntress," she says, teasingly. Still there’s something deep in her eyes that hasn’t been there before. Some kind of… knowledge?
“So, what’s this about Nightwing, by the way?” I say to distract myself from my thoughts and from the intense stare of this the all-knowing Oracle before me. I really hate it when she turns her Oracle eyes upon me. Always makes me feel I can’t hide anywhere.
My question causes her to avert her eyes with a slightly guilty look on her face and I feel a pang of something unknown – an impeding sense of doom looming above our heads. Despite the fact that she’s uncomfortable she looks me straight in the eyes when she answers my question.
“I asked him to come to New Gotham a while ago," she says, holding my gaze. “I thought he might be needed.”
“Yeah? Well – it’s fun having him around, but he hasn’t really made a difference so far. I mean, as far as I’m concerned…” The look in her eyes silences me. “That’s not what you meant…” I trail off, trying to collect my thoughts – trying to understand what she meant. But her look says it all. “No," I whisper, hardly audible at all, when I realize the truth, almost falling backwards against the railing. “You… you want to replace me!” I shake with grief and anger, pointing at her. “How could you? Barbara – how could you?”
I turn around, wanting to flee from this betrayal and from the look in her eyes. How can there be so much love in the eyes of someone who’s hurt you like this? I’m hurling myself towards the balcony, ready to jump from it and disappear in the shadows of the twilight outside; to hide in the falling night and drown my sorrows in the violence that shaped me. She speaks before I have the chance.
“Don’t you dare, Helena! Don’t you dare run from me again!”
There’s so much anger and hurt in her voice it stops me dead in my tracks. I can hardly dare turn around to face her, but I do. I look at her; see the anger flashing from green eyes.
Barbara is seldom angry. Or rather, she seldom shows her anger. She’s the mistress of control and gets things done without being angry, just by wanting them to be done. I’ve always envied her this. In this moment I envy Dinah – who’s not here to face the full wrath of Barbara Gordon.
She wheels up towards me. “If I could reach farther than your chest I would slap you right now," she says, with burning eyes. I’ve never seen her so mad; it almost frightens me. This is not the Barbara I know.
“Do you think I wanted to replace you? Do you think I even wanted to consider the option? By the grace of God, Helena!” Barbara’s eyes are like burning orbs of green fire when she throws out her arm, looking at me. I can’t move.
“Why, then?” I ask, trying to keep my voice level, not wanting to fuel her anger. She stares at me and I swallow, not wanting to have to meet that gaze again anytime soon. But then I straighten my back and raise my chin. I’m the one being betrayed here. I’m the one with the righteous anger burning within me. “I can’t believe you did this to me," I add, holding her gaze. “Not even discussing…”
“’Why’?” she says and I blink before I realize it’s not a question, but an echo of my own words. “You dare ask me why! The way you treated me… Before Wade died all you could do was yell at me and afterwards… You weren’t here, Helena! You didn’t speak to me, you didn’t look at me. I thought I’d lost you! Don’t you understand? Who was there to discuss with?” She looks at me, breathing heavily. I don’t know what to say, can’t find my voice; she scares the hell out of me when she‘s like this. I’ve never, during all my years with her, seen her this furious. “You weren’t here! You left me! Do you know what that felt like? I was sure you were going to leave us soon enough. I was sure you hated me… And I didn’t even know why…”
I gasp, leaning forward, but one look from her and I freeze. “I didn’t… I never…”
“No?” She curls her lips, watching me with hurt and anger. “No, Helena? Never?”
I hesitate. She is right, of course. There was a time when I though I should leave this place, this town, to live my life without her. Thinking both of us would be happier then; me not hurting her with my unspoken anger, she not hurting me by not seeing the truth I so desperately wanted her to see. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave… her.
I don’t say anything. There’s nothing to say, really. Besides, when she looks at me my only real thought is not one that would be suitable mentioning to her in this moment. God – she’s beautiful when she’s angry! I can’t help thinking it; it’s a spontaneous reaction to her burning eyes, her flushing cheeks and heavy breathing. I think I could kiss her now, wanting – craving, even – to feel her lips pressed against mine, her tongue… God – how soft her tongue must be…! But then her words hit me like a fist in the face.
“Go," she says, turning her chair. “Leave me.”
“What? No, Barbara… Please, don’t…” I take a step towards her, but she raises a hand and waves it, brushing me off.
“How does it feel, being denied?” she says bitterly, looking at me over her shoulder. “Did you ever think of what you did to me while not speaking to me?”
“I…” I knew I must have hurt her, but she never said anything. She never blamed me, not even that early morning some weeks ago when I held her and she cried. She said she missed me, that was all.
“I saw your back once in a while. You didn’t even look me in the eye, Helena. All the times you went off that ledge, leaving me bound to this chair behind you, completely preventing me from following you.”
I swallow, seeing the hurt she never showed me before in her eyes. Why is she like this? I wonder, not for the first time in my life. Why does she never let others see her hurt and anger? And why does she now?
“I’m sorry," I whisper, not knowing what else to say. She looks at me again.
“Barbara, don’t… do this.” I plea, not knowing how to react to this.
“Don’t what, Helena?” she says icily, but beneath the anger there’s hurt and also fear. And beyond that there’s something else; something deeper and more intense. I can’t read her completely, I never could, but in this instant I’m realizing something and I gasp softly, looking into her eyes. What she’s giving me right now is… a gift.
“Don’t what?” she goes on. “This is me, Helena. The real woman behind the mask. The one you always wanted to see. Are you happy now? This is what you wanted, isn’t it? To see me lose control… What?” she adds when I close my eyes. “What’s the matter, Helena? Is she not what you thought her to be?”
I open my eyes and look at her. She’s crying now; tears of crystal falling from green eyes, glistening on her cheeks. I silently move towards her, reaching for her. I think she will move away from me, but she lets me take her hand before she closes her eyes with a brief sigh. I hold her hand, saying nothing. She has just showed me her true self. It is truly the greatest gift this strong woman could ever give anyone. I don’t know what I did to deserve it.
We stay like this; not moving, not speaking. I’m the one waiting now. She’s waited for me so many times before – I need to give her this, to show her I understand. She needs to know she can trust me.
“Helena…” she whispers.
“If you say you’re sorry I’m sure gonna kick your slim ass," I growl, squeezing her hand. She smiles and looks up at me.
“On one condition. I don’t want to hear it from you either. I heard you the first time.”
I nod only, feeling the softness of her hand in mine.
“I’ve never…” She falters, drawing a deep breath. “I never gave Wade this much.”
“I know," I say, almost in a whisper. I doubt she ever gave anyone this much of herself; she’s always in control. I’m still not sure why she trusts me with something that’s such a great part of who she is, but I’m realizing she’s treating me like a friend now, not like a child or even a protégé. “Barbara…” I swallow and turn silent. I don’t know what to say. If I speak now I will speak the truth and I don’t have the courage to do so. My heart will break if she turns away from me again.
“I called Dick only as a last resort," she says, not apologizing but wanting to heal the wound she caused me. She wipes tears from her cheeks with her free hand. “I didn’t know… I really thought you were going to leave us.” She’s reaching to stroke my cheek now; a gentle touch and soft to my skin; I must suppress a shiver, feeling it. “I know now that I won’t need him," she adds with a brief smile.
“He could stay anyway," I say. “I like having him around. Like that brother that’s mine, whom I never knew I had but who still exists and now is there.” I smile, wanting her to laugh again, but she looks away, pulling her hand out of my grasp.
“I think he would like that," she says. “I’d like it too. He was there when there was no one else for me to turn to. He listened…”
I feel a cold shiver down my spine listening to her. “You talked to him even though I was here? I’ve been around since he arrived," I say, feeling hurt again. This pain goes even deeper. I shake my head, not wanting to believe she talked to Dick about what’s troubling her and not even mentioning it to me.
“I know you’ve been hurting. I know you’ve been hiding something from me. God damn it, Barbara! I was here! Why didn’t you talk to me? Why couldn’t you talk to me?”
“How could I, Helena?” she says, softly, gently, holding my gaze with tenderness – all the Barbara I know again. “How could I know you weren’t around just for a few days, before bolting off again, deciding you still held some unspoken grievance against me?”
“You could have trusted me!” I exclaim, letting my anger get the better of me. My eyes are feral now, for the first time. “Why didn’t you trust me, Barbara? Am I such a child to you? What must I do to show you…?”
“Damn it, Helena! I’m in love with you!” she exclaims and I look at her, dumb-founded. “You think that’s a subject I’m going to discuss with you in person, especially since you didn’t even seem to want to be in the same room as me a few days before? I needed Dick to talk to, since I couldn’t talk to you. I… I needed someone to talk to.” She looks at me with warmth and understanding, saying: “I know you’re hurt. I’d be too, but I… I wanted to tell you that morning…”
I stare at her, not moving. I can see her lips moving, but I really don’t hear what she’s saying. I’m trying to figure out if I heard her correctly a few sentences ago. Did she actually say…?
“You heard me correctly," she adds softly, as if reading my mind. I think she’s been doing that a lot lately. “I’m in love with you, Helena.” She holds my gaze, but then shrugs and turn away, waving her hand as if to brush something away none of us can see. “What does it matter, anyway?” She glances briefly at me, but I can’t move and can only stare at her. “What was it you said? Screw it. It’s not worth it, is it?”
I see her turn her chair, wheeling off towards the elevator. I must stop her, but I don’t know how. What if I heard wrong? I think, panic-stricken. But she’s moving away from me and if I don’t catch her…
“It is," I say, moving a few steps in her direction. I’m talking without thinking, praying that I for once in my life will manage to find the right words; those perfect words that will make all the difference. Then I know it doesn’t matter. She knows me. She knows everything I want to say if I only… If I only show her – something… If I could only make her stay.
“It matters.” Don’t go, I think. Don’t leave me now… “It matters, Barbara. It does. And it’s worth it. It’s worth it all.” God – I’m babbling! “It matters.” I wish I could stop babbling, I sound like the worst kind of a fool. What will she think of me? Don’t go.
She has stopped by the railing, holding herself very still. I move towards her, slowly. “Please, don’t go," I whisper, reaching for her. She turns her head slightly to look at me. I know my eyes are blue and full of the love I feel for her. I know it’s enough for her to see my eyes to know the depths of my feelings. She knows me so well. I kneel by the chair, taking one of her hands in mine. “Don’t leave me, Barbara.” Oh, God – I love her so!
I meet her gaze, searching for the words that will let her know the truth, but in the next instant her hands are in my hair and her lips are pressed against mine. I feel the softness of her, the taste and the oh-so-melting warmth of her tongue. There’s fire and thirst, her skin against my fingers, her hair – so soft, like silk… I can’t get enough of her kisses. Can’t even believe I’m doing this – kissing her, the woman I’ve longed for, ached for, dreamed about, for so long. Before I even knew what love was and how it was made between woman and man.
Her lips are tender, but also craving. She wants me, I can feel it. She hungers for me just like I do for her. Her tongue explores the shape of my mouth, my lips – finding its way when I’m opening myself to her, letting her melt into me. It’s heaven; tracing her cheekbones with my fingertips, kissing her fiercely and gently. Wanting more all the time, still being perfectly satisfied with the knowledge that I’m all hers and she’s all mine.
When I come to my senses I realize I’m standing by the railing with Barbara in my arms, holding her close to me, feeling the shape of her body pressed against mine: soft and firm. She pauses, leaning her forehead against my temple with a soft, content sigh.
“You have no idea how long I’ve longed for this, Helena," she whispers. I shiver as a slight tingle creeps down my spine. Just her voice is enough to make my eyes go feral again.
“What about… um, that date of yours?” I ask, fearing she has involved herself with Mike already and must choose between the two of us. Would she ever choose me?
She leans back to look at me and then caresses my cheek, her fingers lingering at my lips. When I feel her touch I swallow, knowing she made a choice in the park today. She left Mike to come home to me. I’m the one she wants to be with, I think, feeling the truth – knowing it, however incredible it is.
“You were jealous all that time with Wade, weren’t you?” she asks and I nod, slightly embarrassed. “And you couldn’t be around me, because…?” She arches an eyebrow towards me and I know she knows the truth all ready. It doesn’t matter – she needs to hear it from me.
“I love you too, Barbara," I say, looking into her eyes, my own eyes changing from normal to feral and back again. “I’ve been in love with you for a long time and… Yes, I ran from you because of that. I wish… I wish I could have handled it better, especially with Wade, but… I didn’t know how.”
“You handled it very well today, Helena," she says, entwining her fingers in my hair. “You were ready to let me go, to make me happy.”
I close my eyes, swallowing. “It was the hardest thing ever," I whisper and then feel her lips caressing my mouth.
“But you did. I’ve been jealous too, you know," she says, pulling back. I look at her with a tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach – she’s so beautiful. And she loves me – me! I can hardly believe it.
“Yes. I just didn’t show it.”
Of course not, I think solemnly. What’d you expect from her? “Why… Why didn’t you tell me – before? Not before Dick, but before… Before Wade and… everything?”
“I couldn’t, Helena. I had to let you grow up, to let you find your own way. I couldn’t influence you, in any way. You had to… You had to grow free, like a bird of prey. Free to make your own choices, to choose your own path.”
I nod, knowing this. I wonder what it cost her, letting me go – when all she wanted was to keep me close. I can see it now: the love in her eyes. It’s so strong it makes me weak. Did I blame her for not seeing what she did to me? What a fool I’ve been! How could I be so blind, not seeing – not sensing – her love for me, which is so plainly visible on her face now? But, on the other hand, she is Oracle, Mistress of emotional control. This is what she’s been trying to tell me, to show me, I think. From that morning… She did try to tell me – life just seemed to interfere all the time.
“May I just stand here?” I ask softly, holding her tight. “Can I just hold you like this? Never letting you go?”
“You may," she says with a smile, leaning in to kiss me. “Don’t you dare think of letting me go," she whispers in my ear. “You’re mine now, Helena Kyle. I’ll hunt you through the night to keep you.”
And I laugh out loud, feeling her fingers brushing my hair. This moment – right this second – has been worth it all, I think. The hurt, the misunderstandings… When I look into her eyes it’s all gone. I love her and she knows it. What’s even better – she loves me back. That’s all that matters. In our world – love is what keeps us alive.