Title: Here Be Monsters
Rating: NC-17, mostly for language because the character's choice of words unfortunately often reflects the author's, though also for some adult situations
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Pairing: B/H, H/HQ
Dinah watched Barbara, much as she'd been watching her for well over a month. They'd fallen into a rut, a horribly stagnant rut, and if something didn't change, Dinah wasn't sure how much longer she was going to be able to take it.
Barbara moved through each day as if she weren't really aware of its passing, performing her tasks with rote ease. She went to school then came home, immediately planting herself in front of the bank of computers that comprised Delphi. If Dinah didn't bring her food, she didn't eat, and if Dinah didn't speak to her, she didn't say a word. Instead she scanned the rows of information much as she always had, though now without purpose. It wasn't as if they did anything anymore. Ever since Helena had left, they'd become observers, and Dinah was chafing under the restrictions. She was also growing increasingly angry with Barbara, something that was becoming harder and harder to contain.
Just the night before they'd had an argument. Well, it would have been an argument if Barbara had actually argued back, but she hadn't. She'd simply sat there, unresponsive, calmly taking everything Dinah threw at her without defending herself. It had all started when Dinah had caught her watching the security footage once again, something that seemed like a nightly ritual, and she'd finally just let loose of some of her anger, the release not nearly as satisfying as she could have hoped.
"What you're doing is wrong, you know," the blonde had said heatedly, unable to suppress her disgust any longer. "You know she's out there, and you're not doing anything to stop her. That's what we're for, isn't it? Fighting crime, not facilitating it. What's she going to have to do before you get involved? Kill someone? Put someone in the hospital? I thought you had convictions, Barbara. Since when do you get to pick and choose who gets to break the law whenever they want with no consequences and who deserves to be punished?"
Barbara had simply sighed, a muttered, "You don't understand," her only reply.
"No, I do understand," Dinah had shot back, frustrated. "I know you two have some kind of bond, and I know you love her and all that, but she's not any different than anyone else. You're just as bad as she is, covering up her tracks the way you have been. You've become the exact same thing she has."
There had been a hint of fire to spark through Barbara's eyes but nothing but more silence from her lips, and so with a groan of irritation, Dinah had stormed from the room.
She was preparing herself for another battle, determined to batter away at Barbara until the other woman did something about Helena. She didn't want to have to go behind the red-head's back to the police, some part of her still believing that eventually Barbara's sense of right and wrong would kick into play and she would do what she had to do, but if something didn't happen soon, it would be her only option. Sure, she liked Helena, had been growing to respect her, but the other woman had turned against everything she thought they stood for, and Dinah wasn't at all comfortable with that. She also wasn't comfortable with double standards. They might operate outside of the law, but they always fought on its side. This, though, was something completely different. Helena was clearly breaking the law, and Dinah had the sinking suspicion that Barbara was tacitly helping her.
So, gearing up to try again, Dinah took in a deep breath and opened her mouth, only to be cut off by the mechanical beep of Delphi's security alert. "Intruder alert. Intruder alert," the machine spouted robotically, the words seeming to break Barbara out of her trance. As the other woman sprang into action, the movements filled with more life than Dinah had seen in weeks, the blonde came up to stand behind her, peeking over her shoulder, glad that at last, something was happening.
The quick click of keys soon resulted in a large image of the intruder, whose position had quickly been isolated. The figure was dressed from head to toe in black, its slim form leaning heavily against the back wall of the elevator, and Barbara felt her heart-rate quicken. She was almost positive she recognized the slim frame, and with little regard to her safety, rolled quickly across the floor until she was directly in front of the elevator doors, waiting impatiently for them to open. Though it seemed to take forever, they finally did, and as the chrome slid open soundlessly, the intruder stumbled out, shoulder bumping painfully against the still retracting door before falling in a heap on the floor at Barbara's feet.
Blue eyes looked up at the redhead from the concealing black mask, pleading and weak. "Barbara," a hauntingly familiar voice whispered before an exhausted Huntress lapsed into unconsciousness, and Barbara gestured frantically for Dinah.
"You've got to help me," Barbara said, her voice panicked. Something was terribly wrong, but she wasn't in any position to know what it was. Cursing her inability to kneel down on the floor alongside the figure, to check that well-known form for injuries and rip away the mask she knew was hiding features she'd longed to see again in person for well over a month, Barbara satisfied herself with doing a visual inspection, not at all comforted by the pool of dark red blood she could see spilling out onto her floor.
Dinah crossed the room quickly, spurred on by the near hysteria in the other woman's voice. Taking in the figure slumped awkwardly on the floor she sighed, instinctively certain that it was Helena. Knowing that they needed to get her up and somehow aware of a need to be gentle, Dinah focused her thoughts as best she could around the turmoil swirling through her brain. With baited breath, Barbara watched as Helena's form levitated a few feet above the ground, intensely relieved Dinah had decided to put aside her ire long enough to help and hoping that for once the blonde would be able to sustain enough concentration to actually do what she intended to do.
"My bedroom," Barbara rasped, rolling ahead to open doors. Dinah followed her slowly, droplets of blood marking the path of Helena's limp form as it traveled through the Clocktower and into Barbara's apartment. By the time she finally managed to dump Helena's body in the other woman's bed, she was exhausted. Slumping to the floor, completely drained, she watched as Barbara ripped off Helena's mask, as her fingers traced a gentle path down her cheek before she turned wide, scared eyes Dinah's way.
"Go get the emergency first aid kit. I'm going to need towels and alcohol. Hurry. please," Barbara pleaded, already easing Helena's shirt out of the way to reveal the jagged tear running along her ribcage. The bullet had just grazed her, but Barbara knew instinctively that Helena had caused herself a lot more damage trying to evade whoever it was who was shooting at her. Mopping awkwardly at the sluggishly bleeding wound with her bedsheets, Barbara felt herself start to calm somewhat. She didn't know if Helena was going to make it, though she had to have faith that she was. What she did know, however, was that the other woman was finally home, and if Barbara had her way, this time it would be for good.
Dinah returned seconds later, the requested items in hand. Barbara barely seemed to register her presence as she used safety scissors to cut away Helena's shirt, and gauze soaked in alcohol to wash away the rapidly drying blood surrounding the wound. Helena moaned at the touch, and Barbara looked up, terrified that the other woman had returned to consciousness just in time for the more excruciating part of the evening, but her eyes were still closed.
With deft movements perfected over a lifetime of tending to her own wounds, Barbara threaded a needle then laid it to the side. After rinsing Helena's wound repeatedly, the pinkish stain on her once pristine white sheets spreading further with each pass, Barbara began to stitch the jagged flesh together. She moved quickly but carefully, closing up the nearly six inch long cut in a matter of minutes, leaving a row of tiny, neat stitches in her wake. When that was finished, she slathered the wound with antiseptic cream and wrapped it with gauze, bisecting Helena's firm, tanned abdomen with a strip of nearly blinding white. That done, she made yet another foray into the first aid kit, extracting a small syringe and a vial of clear liquid. Piercing the foil covering with the slim needle, Barbara carefully drew back the plunger, experienced eyes watching intently as suction drew the liquid up the tube. A few quick flicks to break apart any air bubbles, a small push to seal the syringe, and she turned the needle in Helena's direction. After injecting the strong antibiotic, wincing slightly as she penetrated pale flesh despite the knowledge that Helena couldn't feel it, Barbara collapsed back into her chair, exhausted.
"We've got to take her to the police."
Until Dinah spoke, Barbara had completely forgotten that she was still there. The words jolted her back into the present, however, and she became aware of the blonde standing beside her, a scowl on her face as she looked down at Helena's sweat-drenched form.
"No, we don't," Barbara said crisply. "We don't know what's going on, and until she wakes up and tells us, I'm not going to do a thing."
"You've already got your proof," Dinah said wearily. "You watch the tape every night. Quit deluding yourself, Barbara. Helena's obviously changed."
Deciding to ignore the teen, Barbara merely said, "I'm going to change the sheets. Are you going to help me or not?"
Sighing, Dinah acquiesced, well aware that she wasn't going to get anywhere with Barbara. Later, when the sheets were changed and Helena was nestled in under a mountain of covers, her clothes exchanged for bare skin, the blonde left the two of them alone together, once more feeling distinctly like an unwanted outsider.
Helena smiled happily across the table at Barbara, awed by how beautiful the older woman looked bathed in candlelight. When she'd been asked what she wanted for her 22nd birthday, she'd said a night out on the town. Watching with amusement as Barbara shrank back into her chair, as she apparently resigned herself to no longer spending Helena's birthday with the girl in question, the brunette had almost laughed. Barbara had looked downright crestfallen, and it wasn't until Helena shyly corrected her, when she let Barbara know a night out on the town meant the two of them dressing up in their finest outfits and dining out somewhere outrageously expensive, that the other woman smiled again. It was a crooked, happy little smile, one that had never failed to melt Helena's heart, and she remembered how excited she'd been, certain that she was finally going to be able to get what she'd always wanted.
The night had been wildly romantic, at least in Helena's opinion, and as they lingered over dessert, each sipping on a glass of glittering gold champagne, she leaned forward, eyes focused on the nervous bite of even white teeth into a lush bottom lip.
"Helena," Barbara whispered, eyes beckoning her. "Helena. Helena, please. please wake up."
Startled out of her dream world by the words, Helena sat up with a gasp, immediately regretting the sudden movement as pain radiated out from her side to encompass her entire body. Falling back into soft bedding with a groan, she slowly became aware of her surroundings. There was comforting hand pressed to her forehead, a soothing voice in her ear, and as she rolled to the side, falling into an ocean of soft green, she wondered if she was still dreaming. Or if, in fact, she'd actually managed to make it to heaven.
Reaching out, desperate to touch Barbara, to reassure herself that the other woman was indeed there, she came to the conclusion that she certainly hadn't stumbled her way into an afterlife paradise, because she was fairly certain they didn't come equipped with mind-numbing pain. But, pushing that aside, she persevered until her fingers brushed lightly against the other woman's cheek, taking in the worry darkening once verdant green eyes.
"Is it really you?" Helena whispered, still not convinced it all wasn't an illusion. She remembered running, and being shot, and thinking that she just had to make it to the Clocktower and then everything would be alright, but she didn't know how she'd ended up in what she was fairly certain was Barbara's bed, nor did she know how long she'd been there.
"It's really me," Barbara said softly in reply, catching Helena's fingers and brushing a kiss across their tips. "You've been hurt. You need to lay still."
"Barbara," Helena rasped, ignoring Barbara's instructions in favor of pushing up on her elbow in search of a better view of the other woman's face, needing to speak more than she needed to rest, "God, I've missed you. I'm so sorry about what I did before, what I said."
The words were laced with pain and despondence, each syllable tearing into Barbara's flesh with the sting of a knife's blade. Unable to help herself, the redhead hoisted herself up from her position, uncurling her upper body from the protective hold she'd had on Helena's form, to ghost a kiss across a sweat-soaked forehead. "I love you so much," she breathed, the words making their way out of her mouth unbidden, much as were the tears streaking down her face.
The figure beneath her stilled suddenly before, with a startled gasp and an awkward, jerky motion, Helena caught her gaze, blue eyes shimmering with suspicious brightness in the darkened room. "Like I love you?" Helena asked hopefully, tone unguarded, heart surging in her chest.
Barbara's eyes dropped to the side awkwardly, her resolve faltering in the face of such enthusiasm. Though plagued by doubts and insecurities, she still managed to nod. "I think so. I mean. I."
Breaking off the painful struggle for words with a soft kiss, ignoring the scream of agony erupting from her side, Helena lost herself in the taste and feel of the other woman. She was giddy, nearly euphoric, and wished desperately that the moment would never end. It had to, of course, because the strain of the position on her stitches soon had her pressing back into the mattress, eyes clenched tightly shut in the face of another bolt of pain, rain-soft kisses from Barbara's lips brushing her chin, her cheeks, and the corner of her mouth, easing the hurt away.
"I need to tell you what I've done," she said when the pain finally edged away, only to be shushed.
"I don't want to know," Barbara said roughly, eyes pleading. She didn't want to have to deal with Helena's actions of the past month and a half, didn't want to have to face her own complicity. She wasn't going to fall into the same trap as her mentor had. In fact, she'd had more than enough time to contemplate the strikingly linear progression of her relationship with Helena to his relationship with Selena. Bruce had lost Helena's mother because he hadn't been able to reconcile his calling with her nature, and because of that, he'd thrown it all away. In return, he'd gotten nothing but a lifetime of pain in the form of separation from his only child and the death of the only woman he'd ever really loved. In the end, it had all been too much for him, and Barbara wasn't about to run from her life the way he'd ran from his. At least, not any longer. She wasn't going to make the same mistakes with Helena, and her conscience be damned. If she had to loosen her grip on certain ideals to keep the brunette in her life, indeed, to keep someone in her life who made it worth living, then so be it.
Shaking her head angrily, unaware of Barbara's selfish motivations, Helena said strongly, "No, you need to know. Quinzel. she's got something going on, something big. I thought that maybe if I worked my way in close to her, I'd find out what it was and bring her down and when I did. when I did, you'd know I deserved to be your equal."
"Helena," Barbara whispered sadly, bereft, the words bringing tears to her eyes.
"I stole things," Helena said quickly, her words choppy as she cut the other woman off, determined to lay all of her sins on the table before the reconciliation went any further. "I didn't hurt anyone, but I stole things. I've got them all. All but the computer chip. I threw it away. She was tracking me with it. We'll give them back when this is all over."
Sighing, pushing back the wet strands of hair clinging to the brunette's forehead, Barbara took in the implication of Helena's words. There was so much there, some of it waiting for professional intervention and some of it deeply personal. "You've always been my equal, Helena. You don't have to prove anything to me."
Coughing lightly, feeling herself skirt perilously close to the edge of unconsciousness yet again but not wanting to leave the moment, Helena struggled to remain coherent. "No, I haven't. You've got to know you can believe in me, Barbara. I won't let you down. You don't need anyone else, I promise. You've just got to give me a chance. I earned a chance."
"You." Barbara started to say, but fell silent as Helena's lids fluttered shut once more, chest rising and falling with the rhythm of sleep. Watching the other woman's features settle out into calm lines, pain erasing its etchings from the once tense outlines of her face, the stiff set of her shoulders, Barbara resigned herself to a lifetime of never being able to do anything but love Helena. She'd fought it, had been willfully blind to its presence in her life, had denied it to the point of driving the other woman away, but she couldn't do it any longer. There was a sense of foreboding dampening the air, of the teasing hint of pain to come. The day would arrive when she wouldn't be enough, and when that day came, she didn't know what she would do. Until then, though, she was going to let this happen and enjoy every single second of it.
When Helena awoke again she was alone, the cold surface of the sheets by her side attesting to the fact that she'd been that way for quite some time. Rolling to her feet, biting back a groan of pain at the move but otherwise fairly happy with the marked increase in mobility she was enjoying, Helena pushed herself off the bed and to her feet. A quick rummage through Barbara's chest of drawers produced a pair of soft gray cotton pajama pants and a plain white vee-necked tee-shirt. Slipping awkwardly into the clothes, Helena made her way out of Barbara's bedroom toward the Clocktower, somehow sure that was where she'd find the other woman.
The clack of computer keys proved her correct. As she moved slowly toward Barbara's chair, the other woman caught sight of her reflection in one of the many monitors. Whirling, a frown pulling at her face, Barbara scolded, "You're not supposed to be out of bed."
Shrugging her shoulders, wincing slightly as the move pulled at her stitches, Helena ambled up the platform so that she was standing beside Barbara, hip propped against the metal edge of the red-head's desk. "It's no fun without you there too," she said hoarsely, grinning lasciviously.
Barbara blushed, a sight which Helena found adorable, and sputtered slightly as she said, "I'll bet you're hungry. What do you want to eat?"
Eyebrows wiggling, Helena merely grinned, causing Barbara's blush to deepen. But then, deciding to put the other woman out of her misery, not quite certain how red a human could get and still remain healthy, she said, "Whatever you can manage to cook, unless Alfred is around. If he's here, then I want fried chicken."
Looking somewhat affronted, Barbara protested, "I can make fried chicken."
Rolling her eyes, thinking back to some of Barbara's more fiery culinary adventures, Helena muttered, "No, you can burn chicken. I'm too sore to operate the fire extinguisher."
Soft fingers stole under the hem of her shirt at the words, and Helena sucked in a deep breath, abdomen suddenly more sensitive than she'd ever noticed it being. "I need to change your bandages," Barbara said worriedly, brows furrowing in concern. "I don't want you to get an infection."
Smiling weakly, Helena said hopefully, "Is that something we can do in here, because I'm not so sure I can make it all the way back to your room right now."
"Does it hurt that badly?" Barbara asked, voice laden with worry.
"Nope," the brunette joked feebly, "but ever since you touched me, my knees have been too weak for me to even think about moving."
"Helena," Barbara reprimanded, voice a mixture of relief and self-conscious embarrassment, "you can't just say things like that."
"Why not?" Helena asked, sincere confusion in her tone. "I mean them. If I wasn't being held together by your immaculate stitching and suffering from a tiny bit of blood loss right now, you never would have made it out of the bedroom earlier."
Growing increasingly flustered, unsure she could hold her weight in a trade of suggestive entendres this soon after admitting to her feelings, Barbara instead said, "Dinah's still quite mad at you. I explained what was going on, but I'm not sure she's ready to forgive you yet."
Growling, completely conscious of the sudden change in topics and none to happy about it, Helena muttered, "I don't care about Dinah. Right now, I care about you. Do you forgive me, Barbara?"
Barbara hesitated for a moment, mind flitting back over the seemingly endless weeks she'd spent agonizing over what to do, blaming herself for what was going on, and cursing her own inability to do anything about it. Did any of that matter?
"Yes. I forgive you," she said haltingly, the words not entirely convincing.
"No you don't," Helena said bitterly, pushing herself up off the desk, face impassive. They were falling back into the same pattern they'd been trapped in before, and she wasn't sure if she could take it.
Before the other woman could storm off yet again, Barbara grasped her hand in an iron grip, holding her still. "I do forgive you, Helena. I know why you felt you needed to do what you did, and I understand. We just have to figure out where to go from here."
Frustrated, Helena tugged at her hand but found herself unable to extricate it from Barbara's hold. "What is there to figure out, Barbara? I love you and you said you loved me. Why does it have to be difficult?"
Stung by the underlying anger in Helena's tone, Barbara released the other woman's hand, her voice subdued as she said, "I wasn't talking about with us. Quinzel is going to wonder where you are. If she figures out what you've been doing, then your life is really going to be in danger. Besides, you can't keep working for her. Not after this," Barbara said, finishing fiercely, one hand gesturing toward Helena's side.
Slumping back against the desk once more, berating herself for jumping to conclusions, Helena sighed. "I don't know, Barbara. I can't just disappear. She knows who I am, and she knows who you are. I can't see her being too happy with me if I march in and say I'm giving it all up for the domestic life."
Linking their fingers together once more, knowing they needed to stay focused on the more serious topics at hand but unable to, Barbara couldn't help but ask shyly, "Is that what you want? The domestic life?"
"Well," Helena replied, giving the matter a second's thought, a naughty grin transforming her features, "perhaps if it's our own special brand of domestication. I mean, after I get healed up, I'm all for working on the procreation aspect. I'm thinking a few dozen years of trying it the natural way first, and if that doesn't work out then we can look into something else."
The words elicited a fleeting trace of pain, the shadow if its passing clearly visible on Barbara's features.
"Helena, you know I can't easily. I don't." she stammered awkwardly, face twisting up in frustration as the words wouldn't come. "The shooting. since then I haven't been able to. I don't. When I. It's hard to."
"Hey," Helena said softly, breaking into the other woman's tortured attempt to speak, "trust me. We'll figure something out together."
But, the thought of failing Helena that way was far too agonizing for Barbara to let go of that easily. "I guess. it's just. I mean, I'd understand if you had to look for that somewhere else," she whispered, cheeks bright red with embarrassment. "I wouldn't mind."
"You wouldn't mind?" Helena echoed, her tone laced with disbelief. "I'd mind, Barbara. How could you even suggest that? Sex is only part of the picture, and if you can't find satisfaction with me and think you have to look somewhere else for it, then let me know. But, I'd never do that to you, Barbara. If I'm with you, then I'm just with you. I can't even imagine wanting anyone else."
Face darkening, this time with self-directed anger, Barbara muttered, "There's no way you can say that without knowing what you're getting into, Helena. I can't do the things your other lovers did. Think about everything you're going to be giving up before you make promises you might not be able to keep."
"Giving up what?" Helena muttered, her tone self-deprecating. "One night stands? Meaningless fucking? Vaguely unsatisfying sex with someone whose name I can't even remember? Yeah, I'm gonna be losing a lot. Don't you understand, Barbara? I want you, and as long as I have you, that's all I need. Fuck, I can't believe we're even having this argument. You don't know what it's going to be like between us yet. Don't start feeling sorry for yourself already."
"It's not feeling sorry for myself. It's understanding the truth of the matter," Barbara said stiffly, defensively.
"No," Helena shot back angrily, "it's you trying to tear things down before we've even had a chance to build them, Barbara. Can't you just, for once, let something happen? Just go for what you want without telling yourself all the reasons why you shouldn't have it first?"
Suddenly desperate to lighten the mood, Barbara said lightly, "I don't know. I've never tried it before."
Grabbing on to the break in tension with both hands, Helena teased, "Uncharted territory, babe. Think of it as an adventure."
"Babe?" Barbara repeated, one brow rising in annoyance. "Do I look like a little pig to you?"
"You mean you actually watched that movie?" Helena asked, slightly dumbfounded. Barbara and Babe the Pig just didn't seem to fit, no matter which way she looked at it.
"Well, no," Barbara admitted, "but I saw the previews on television."
"Thank God," Helena said with relief. "I thought we were getting to the revealing deep, dark secrets part of the relationship already, and I wasn't sure I could handle anything that scary this early on."
"Goofball," Barbara said affectionately, earning an aggrieved look from the brunette. "Now, do you want me to fix you something eat or not?"
"Are you sure we can't call Alfred?" Helena suggested hopefully.
Raising a brow in annoyance, Barbara asked, "Are you going to call him and wake him up?"
"Wake him up? Alfred never sleeps, Barbara. You should know that."
And really, Helena thought a few hours later, sated on fried chicken and mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, it really was worth it, even if Alfred had glared at her just a little when he thought she wasn't looking.
"So, Barbara tells me you're not happy with me," Helena said nonchalantly, sliding past the opened balcony door to come stand beside Dinah's stiff form, eyes looking out at the New Gotham skyline. Genetics had ensured her recovery time to be much less than a normal person's, and even though it was just a few days after the shooting, she was feeling pretty much as good as new. With her body nearly fully mended, it was time to start working on the other aspects of her life.
Dinah remained resolutely silent, clinging firmly onto her anger. She wasn't
ready to forgive and forget yet, not after what she'd seen Barbara go through
and not after what she'd seen Helena do. She might have had a good excuse for
her actions, but that didn't erase the fact that she'd hidden her intent from
them, letting them both think she was a criminal. It also didn't excuse the
fact that she'd left them out in the cold in regards to her plans, pretending as
didn't even need them.
"Well, you can be unhappy with me for as long as you want, but I'm going to need your help so see if you can manage to get over it enough to work with me," Helena sighed, taking in the stiff set of the other girl's jaw, the unforgiving glint in her eyes. "I don't know what's going to happen with Quinzel, but I won't be able to do anything about her if I'm worried about Barbara all the time. I need you to protect her for me."
That finally broke through Dinah's shell, and she turned, eyes blazing with anger. "Barbara can protect herself," she hissed, arms crossed firmly over her chest. "If you were really worried about her, you wouldn't have abandoned her before."
Voice sharp despite her resolve to stay calm, Helena shot back, "You can judge me all you want, but you don't know what was going on. I couldn't stay here. I just couldn't."
"Don't you know what you did?" Dinah asked brokenly, her ire suddenly gone, leaving defeat in its place. "She sat there and watched that security footage of you every night. She knew what you were doing, and she didn't do anything about it. Not one single thing. She didn't try to stop you, didn't tell the police it was you. Hell, I'm almost certain she covered up for you. You turned her into the very thing she hates."
Masking her surprise at the revelation, Helena took a step back, arms crossed defensively over her chest. "Everything can't be black and white, Dinah. There's no fucking invisible line with evil on one side and good on the other."
"That's bullshit, Helena," Dinah muttered bitterly, head dropping down, eyes focused without seeing on the stone beneath her feet. "She broke every single one of her rules because she loved you, and she couldn't turn on you the way she thought you'd turned on her."
"So what?" Helena asked, exasperated. "What are you really mad at me for? Are you mad because you think I deserted Barbara? Because I stole some things? Or, is it because you found out that everyone's human? That everyone has a weakness, and that anyone can do something you think is wrong, no matter how high a pedestal you put them on? I'm not a saint, and Barbara's not either. And, I've got news for you kid. one day, you're going to find out that you're not one yourself. We're just people, and sometimes we make mistakes. If you expect everyone to be perfect, you're going to spend the rest of your life disappointed."
"I guess I'm supposed to stop expecting things of people then, is that it?" Dinah asked sarcastically, pale green eyes shuttered, face devoid of all emotion.
Sighing, running a hand through her hair, Helena shrugged her shoulders. "No. Don't stop expecting things, just realize that not everyone can be who you want them to be. Either you've got to learn to accept the people you love for who they are, or you're just going to have to get used to living without them."
"I don't want to have to compromise," Dinah said sullenly, a frown pulling at her features.
"So don't. It's your choice," Helena said ambivalently. She couldn't dictate morals or beliefs, and certainly wasn't in any mood to try. Dinah would either come around or she wouldn't, and until she made her decision, Helena would simply stay out of the way. Unless she hurt Barbara, at which point it would become an entirely different ballgame.
Sighing, posture deflating slightly, her words echoing those she'd spoken less than two months before, Dinah asked, "What are we going to do now?"
Looking off blindly into the distance, Helena shook her head. "I don't know, kid. I just don't know."
Barbara was propped up in bed reading when Helena inched into her room, not yet certain whether or not she was wanted. They'd slept together the previous past few nights, bodies curled around one another, but she hadn't been sufficiently healed then and there'd really been little possibility for anything more. Things were different now that her wound was little more than an annoyance, not something which would hinder her movements or call for delicate treatment. Now the possibility for something more loomed large, and Helena didn't know how to handle it.
"Uh, can I come in?"
Barbara looked up, one brow arching in amusement at the absurdity of the question. Helena was standing only a few feet away from the foot of her bed wearing little more than a miniscule tank top and a pair of tiny pink cotton panties, obviously already in her room, but Barbara didn't point out that little fact. Instead, she laid her book down on the bedside table and pulled back the covers, slipping her glasses off as Helena slid uneasily into place beside her. Barely holding back a smirk of amusement, Barbara eyed Helena as the brunette went stiff as a board as soon as she was horizontal, breathing hitching momentarily before settling into an unusually fast rhythm.
"Comfortable?" she asked sarcastically, rolling over onto her side so that she was facing Helena, taking in the rigid set of the other woman's profile. Apparently there was something rather fascinating on her ceiling, because the brunette's eyes were glued to it in intense study.
Letting out a long sigh of frustration, Helena looked anywhere but over at Barbara. "I don't know what you want," she admitted finally, voice tight with tension. She didn't want to rush things, didn't want to find herself sprawled out on the floor on the receiving end of a rejection once again, but was also intensely aware of a desire to finally act on the fantasies she'd been concocting for nearly a third of her life.
"What do you want?" Barbara asked casually, though the increased rate of her heartbeat gave away her apprehension over the other woman's answer.
Helena finally turned to face Barbara at the question, voice and eyes starkly, painfully honest as she said, "You. I want you, Barbara."
She looked so earnest, suddenly so impossibly young, that Barbara felt her heart melt. All of a sudden, her resistance seemed like such a waste.
"Then," Barbara murmured, voice loose with a release of nervous tension, "we both want the same thing."
At that, Helena smirked, nerves finally settling into something at least a few steps down from tightly drawn. "You want you too?" she asked, chuckling low in her throat as Barbara rolled her eyes.
"You know what I meant," Barbara growled playfully, the intimacy in her tone sending shivers down Helena's spine. Conversely, ironically, it also brought with it a return of the nausea-inducing nervous tension. Now that she was finally within reach of what she wanted, the brunette wasn't sure if she was ready for it. No, that wasn't it. She knew she was more than ready for it, but that didn't mean she was prepared. It seemed, suddenly, that she should have devised a game plan for this moment, a more coherent scheme of attack. Instead she was left with nothing but her own out of control desire and an overwhelming fear that she would fail her soon-to-be lover.
"I'm nervous," Helena blurted, horrified even as she heard the words cross her lips. She wasn't supposed to be nervous, and she sure as hell wasn't supposed to admit it. She was supposed to be calm, confident, and unbearably seductive, not trembling in fear like a virgin after the Homecoming dance. Only, she wasn't any of those things, and the sheer import of the moment hit her like a ton of bricks. She was about to make love to Barbara, a woman she'd loved for so long she couldn't remember a time when it hadn't been so, a woman she'd spent the better part of eight years trying to impress. A woman whose approval of her meant everything.
Despite her reluctance to do so, overly conscious of the near terror in usually confident blue eyes, Barbara murmured, "We don't have to do anything if you don't want to, Helena."
"NO!" the brunette exclaimed immediately, aghast, horrified that her hesitance had ruined things. "I mean, I'm not that nervous."
There was a short silence, and then, voice painted heavily with profound relief, Barbara muttered, "Thank God."
A shocked snort of laughter bubbled past Helena's lips as she rolled over fully so that her side was touching Barbara's, eyes twinkling and dimples deeply evident. "I can't believe you just said that."
Shrugging innocently, Barbara smiled. "Well, it's the truth." And, it was. She'd been without what she truly wanted for far too long, mostly because of her own obstinacy, and was more than ready to remedy the situation.
Inching even closer to the older woman, their heads now on the same pillow, Helena reached out to trace her fingers down the length of Barbara's arm, her touch ghosting pale skin with light grace. "I can't remember a time when I didn't want you," she admitted, eyes downcast at the revelation, mood swinging from teasing to serious in seconds.
"How about when you were fifteen, and cursing me because you'd just failed a pop quiz," Barbara offered, eyes fluttering shut at the feel of Helena's fingertips against her flesh. She was nervous yet excited, the two emotions entwining around one another, setting her nerves on edge, making each touch electric. She was hyperaware of the heat of Helena beside her, of the slight rake of short nails against her skin, of the moist warmth of the other woman's breath.
Smirking, shaking her head, eyes glued to the path of her meandering fingers, Helena muttered, "Nope. I might have been mad at you, but I still thought you were hot."
"Hot?" Barbara questioned lightly, tone full of amusement. "I may be many things, but I don't think hot is one of them."
"Oh, I totally disagree," Helena breathed absently, lowering her head to nip at the skin bared by Barbara's tank, her lips brushing against hard muscle encased in silk. "The boys used to talk about you all the time, about how much they'd like to get held after class for a discipline session or two. I beat one of them up one time."
"Frank Howard?" Barbara asked, voice catching in her throat as sharp teeth slid across her collarbone and raked against the hollow of her throat. She was quickly losing focus, unable to concentrate on the conversation with anything more than passing awareness.
"That's the one," Helena hummed, her voice muffled, one hand sneaking beneath the loose hem of Barbara's tank top to tease over the flesh of her belly.
Taking in a quick breath, muscles in her abdomen quivering under the light, seductive touch, Barbara breathed, "You got suspended for that."
"It was worth it," Helena murmured, trailing her lips up the length of Barbara's neck until she was poised beside the shell of the other woman's ear. Then, with a whisper, she added, "Besides, I think I may have opened up some doors for Frank. I saw him out with a big, bad leatherdaddy one night when I was out on a sweep."
Unable to help herself, Barbara laughed, her head falling to the side, the move placing their faces only inches apart. "You're lying," she accused gently, eyes crinkling in amusement at the thought.
"Nope," Helena replied, grinning widely. Then, voice suddenly serious, she asked gravely, "Barbara, do you remember the night of my 22nd birthday?"
"You mean the night we spent an obscene amount of money at that hopelessly trendy restaurant you dragged me to?" Barbara asked, quirking a brow in confusion, thrown by the sudden change in topic.
Nodding shallowly, blue eyes focused with searing intensity on the lush planes of the red-head's lips, Helena rasped, "That's the one. You were so beautiful, and I was just a little bit drunk, and I wanted to kiss you so badly it hurt. And I tried, but I was afraid and I pulled back."
"And kissed my cheek," Barbara said softly, finishing off the story. "I remember. I thought you were really going to do it. Actually, I was terrified that you would, and that when you did I wouldn't be able to not kiss you back."
Inching closer until Barbara was the only thing she could see, the only thing she wanted to see, Helena asked hesitantly, "Why were you terrified?"
Laughing self-consciously, eyelids fluttering closed for a moment in an attempt to avoid the probing intensity of luminous blue-gray eyes, Barbara muttered, "Because I knew you'd know how I felt about you if you did, and I wasn't ready then."
Heart racing, Helena leaned forward even more, so close her breath seared the sensitive curve of Barbara's lips, brushed past the line of her chin. "Are you ready now?" Helena asked hoarsely, excitement coursing through her veins.
Green eyes opening slowly, impossibly soft in the room's filtered light, Barbara nodded, unable to speak. There was so much she wanted to say, but it didn't seem like the right time, and she wasn't sure she had the words. She wanted to apologize, to say whatever she needed to say to excuse her actions of the weeks and months prior to that moment, wanted to tell Helena that she was sorry, that she hadn't known what to do to fix things between them. Except, she had known what to do, so telling her anything to the contrary would have been yet another lie to add to the pile she had already collected. In fact, she'd watched with full knowledge and awareness, with the dispassionate detachment of staunch self-preservation, the consequences of her choices. In a quest to protect herself, she'd done so much damage that it was faintly wondrous to her that Helena seemed prepared to readily forgive and forget, to move on as if Barbara hadn't taken her heart and her painfully honest offerings and tossed them to the side like so much trash.
But then, Helena's lips were on hers, achingly soft, and she didn't want to think about anything other than the moment. A lithe body was sliding atop her own, the fulfilling weight pressing her deeply into the bedding, entrapping her in a gilded cage of silky skin and the rustle of soft fabric. Impossibly gentle fingers had traced a path up her cheeks to bury in her hair, holding her in place, though for once Barbara didn't chafe under the restrictive hold of a lover. It seemed right, somehow, for Helena to imprison her thusly, for the other woman to keep her still and calm, though not complacent.
There could be no complacency in their kiss, one that had quickly turned heated. Helena's tongue was in her mouth, exploring with the intent to conquer. Nails were flexing rhythmically into her scalp, hard nipples were scraping against her own, and the other woman's scent surrounded her like a blanket, ensnaring her in a world where there was nothing but Helena.
"I need to see you," Helena rasped, pulling back, her neck straining to fight the tight pull of Barbara's hands, trying to bring her back even as she left.
At the words, the red-head paused, doubts and insecurities once again rushing to the fore. Each and every imperfection ran before her mind's eye in the span of a second, and she frowned, self-condemnation eating away at the roots of her confidence.
"It's not a pretty sight," Barbara said weakly, breathlessly, a touch of self-deprecation in her words. Untangling one hand from Helena's hair, she reached back, fingers searching blindly for the switch she knew would plunge the room into darkness, eager for the cloak it would provide.
With a lunge, Helena caught her wrist, fingers almost painfully tight as she pulled the offending limb down, pressing it forcefully into the mattress above Barbara's head. "No," she said roughly, eyes sparkling with a barely restrained ferocity. "I need to see you."
Taking a deep breath, pushing down the wave of unease that rippled through her, Barbara forced herself to relax, to make herself as terrifyingly vulnerable as the other woman apparently wanted her to be. It was something she hadn't allowed before, not since the accident, but the sincere desire in Helena's eyes beckoned her to part with a tiny bit of her control, to give the other woman this gift. So she did, raising her other hand to join the one still pinned in Helena's grasp above her head, posture terrifyingly submissive, hoping but unsure whether or not Helena knew just how difficult it was for her. If Helena knew just what she was being offered.
Crawling down the length of Barbara's body, Helena pulled free the small light blue panties the other woman had been wearing, eyes focusing intently on the thatch of well groomed, fiery red hair the move bared. Sliding her hands up unresponsive legs, Helena reveled in the first unfettered access she'd been given, the free rein she'd been handed. Caressing her way up and over the curve of Barbara's hips, she slid the tank top up, casually wrapping Barbara's wrists in a prison of fabric, leaving her bound but far from helpless. Trailing her fingers back down Barbara's arms, delighting in the unconscious flex of muscles under her touch, she teased her way down around the curve of full breasts, fingers tracing over the visible path of the other woman's ribs to nestle into the firm planes of her lower back. Dropping her head down until shaggy brunette hair teased creamy skin, Helena placed soft, reverent kisses on the five starburst scars scattered across Barbara's lower torso, tracing her tongue along the twin surgical scars bisecting her flesh.
Eyes closing at the sight, at the butterfly tease of the touch, Barbara forcefully untangled a hand, letting it fall to Helena's head, her fingers winding into the silky hair she found there. Giving a slight tug, she tried to pull the other woman up, to once again make them equal, but was summarily denied. Feeling raw and incredibly, achingly vulnerable at the continuing close perusal, she muttered a pained, "Don't."
"Why not?" Helena asked raggedly, unable to separate herself from the allure of Barbara's flesh. Tracing her cheek along the soft contours of Barbara's belly, she murmured, "They're one of your best features."
Laughing self-consciously, head falling to the side and eyes focusing on the far wall without seeing a thing, Barbara managed a strangled, "Please. They're just old, ugly scars."
Frowning at the words, Helena looked down at the skin she'd been worshipping, taking in the torn and tattered flesh. "I don't think you understand," she murmured, placing a light kiss on each scar even as her eyes looked upward, trapping and holding Barbara's with a searing intensity. "Each and every one of these tried to take you away from me. They just didn't know how strong you really are."
Shaking her head, a blush tracing up her cheeks at the words, Barbara thought about how weak she really was, how often she'd almost given in to the temptation to just let go. Her scars didn't represent her strength. They were physical, unforgettable manifestations of her weaknesses.
"Yes, they are," Helena emphasized, then closed her eyes, palms tracing a path up Barbara's back, trapped between impossibly silky skin and teasingly soft sheets. Then, changing tacks, she whispered, "I used to dream about this."
"Kissing my scars?" Barbara asked, confused and flustered. She wasn't comfortable with the close scrutiny, with the attention Helena was lavishing on her. For some reason, she was almost certain she would have preferred anything else. Something quick, something rough. either of those would have been easier for her to handle. This, though, didn't provide her a desperately needed place to hide.
Shaking her head, smiling gently, Helena clarified. "No. I used to wonder what it would be like, being with you. Touching you," she said, voice growing suddenly rougher as her hands slid around to cup Barbara's breasts, thumbs brushing over already hardened tips. "I knew your skin would be soft, but I don't think I was ready," she admitted sheepishly, hands constantly moving, touching, caressing.
Mesmerized by the hypnotic quality of Helena's tone, Barbara asked huskily, "What else did you wonder about?"
The words were out before she could censure them, and part of her was surprised at her boldness. Then again, she'd never really been a talker before, ashamed by the unsteady timbre of her voice in intimate situations. It seemed natural with Helena, though, as if easy words were just simply an expected part of the process.
Tilting her head to the side, eyes flashing with interest and amusement, intensely aware of the embarrassment that had followed Barbara's question, Helena drawled, "Hmm. I wondered about how you would taste."
And then, before Barbara could even reply, Helena's lips were wrapped around a nipple, jaw working as she sucked the sensitive skin into the warm cavern of her mouth. Teeth scraped harshly, bringing about a delightful mixture of pleasure and pain, and Barbara gasped, fingers instinctively burying in Helena's hair, holding the other woman closer. The velvet rasp of a slightly rough tongue soothed the irritated flesh a second before sharp teeth teased yet again, and Barbara lost herself in the sensation.
Helena remained in her perch for long minutes, only pulling away to switch to the other side, lavishing as much attention on the previously abandoned nipple as she had the first. Eyes closed, an expression of purely hedonistic joy transforming her face, she drank in the guttural noises flowing past Barbara's lips, sure the other woman was unaware of even making them.
When strong hands pulled her away, Helena looked up to see hooded green eyes looking at her, desire written clearly across Barbara's face. The other woman moved to pull her upwards, to join their lips together once more, but Helena resisted, instead sliding down Barbara's body to settle between her legs, tongue immediately tracing a long path through the lips of the redhead's sex.
"Tell me what I need to know," she rasped, fingers digging roughly into Barbara's hips. She was surrounded by Barbara, with her scent and her taste and the warmth of her skin all combining to drive her senses crazy.
Finding it hard to hold onto any embarrassment in the face of Helena's obvious need, Barbara ran a hand through short, silky brown hair, sighing as Helena's head tilted to the side, cheek resting against her inner thigh. "There are places inside of me where I can feel, but it usually takes a lot of time and patience, and even then it won't always happen. I don't have any muscle control, really, so I'm not of much help. Aside from that, there's nothing."
"But you can still." Helena started to ask, then trailed off, unsure how to properly frame her question.
Smiling indulgently, bemused by the utterly adorable look of consternation crinkling the other woman's features, Barbara said gently, "With me, it's not all about orgasm, Helena. Everyone always wants it and strives for it and thinks it's not sex without one, but. I don't know. Sometimes, it's almost more fulfilling for me if there's no race with that as the set destination. I can't explain it, really, but being with someone, watching them and touching them and thinking or hoping or just pretending that they love me and I love them. that's what makes it good."
"Well," Helena drawled slowly, crawling up until her lips were once again only millimeter's away from Barbara's, bodies pressed tightly together, "I know I love you. No thinking or hoping or pretending needed. I'm the real deal."
Grinning widely, Barbara surged forward, intent on stealing another kiss, only to be thwarted as Helena pulled back abruptly, smirking.
"Where are you going?" she asked, brow arching in exasperation.
In reply, Helena slid her hands under Barbara once more, dragging her upward easily so that the other woman was leaning back against the headboard, body in a semi-recline. Looking at Helena expectantly, she waited, kept in silence by the mischievous glint in the brunette's eyes.
Licking her lips, pleasantly surprised to find a hint of Barbara's taste still lingering there, Helena grinned rakishly. "I'm not finished telling you what I used to dream about," she said smartly, easily straddling Barbara's abdomen, careful to remain where she knew the other woman could feel her. With a promising wiggle of her eyebrows, she eased first one spaghetti strap and then the other from her shoulders, baring the clean lines of her upper chest. Utterly enchanted by the show, a delicious thrill of arousal running through her at the coyly seductive look being sent her way, Barbara waited in silence, a small smile gracing her face.
"The first time I fantasized about you and me together, I didn't even know really what would happen. I just knew I wanted you, and that the mere thought of you made me all, well --" she paused, tracing one hand down the length of her belly to flirt with the cotton stretched tight across the vee between her thighs, "-- hot."
"Just hot?" Barbara asked, eyes following Helena's hand with undisguised lust, surprised by just how hoarse her voice was.
Brow rising in surprise at the suggestive question, Helena lowered her chin, looking up at Barbara through lowered lashes. Voice low and gravelly, she admitted, "Well, maybe not just hot, but I'm not at that part of the story yet."
Duly chastised, Barbara pursed her lips. Satisfied that the other woman would be quiet, Helena continued. "I wasn't sure how you'd touch me," she said thoughtfully, the hand between her thighs slinking up to slide under her tank, inching it up and baring even more supple, caramel skin. "I didn't know if you'd be soft and gentle, or rough. I knew how strong you were, had seen you in therapy, and found the thought of you overwhelming me, commanding me, rather. well, appealing."
At Barbara's raised brow, Helena blushed slightly, wondering suddenly if sharing had been the right thing to do. She wasn't sure how Barbara would take her most private thoughts, wasn't completely sure what had compelled her to share them in the first place, but since she had started, she was determined to finish. So, with a quick move she whipped the tank off, tossing it away aimlessly, sitting calmly and proudly under Barbara's intense gaze. She had a beautiful body and was well aware of it, that fact something, at least, that she could be sure of.
Barbara, for her part, couldn't take her eyes off of the sight before her. Helena was gorgeous, with her smoothly tanned skin, her firm yet smallish breasts, and her delightfully delineated musculature. Itching to touch, she deftly slid her hands up the long length of the other woman's thighs, palms reveling in the contact. A sardonic glance from Helena stopped her progress, though, and the other woman reached down, easily capturing her wrists and pressing her arms back into the bedding. The move brought her lips dangerously close to Barbara's, and the other woman stole a quick kiss before Helena reared back, smirking. "Not yet," she reprimanded, the husky note in her voice rolling through Barbara on a wave of arousal.
"Sorry," Barbara muttered, smiling unapologetically, her tone making it obvious that she wasn't sorry at all.
Tilting her head to the side, amused expression making it clear that Helena was entirely unimpressed with her apology, the brunette bit her lower lip gently, a look of pure, unadulterated want in her eyes. "So, where was I? Oh, that's right. I was wondering how you'd touch me."
A sudden shift downward brought warm, damp cotton in contact with Barbara's midsection, and she groaned, stomach muscles quivering. Helena merely smiled innocently in reply to the dark look sent her way, voice light as she began to reminisce once more. "Since I didn't have you there, I had to touch myself," she murmured, hands sliding up to cup her own breasts. Barbara watched the move through hooded eyes, arousal spiking as Helena's fingers found her nipples, as they pinched and twisted, the flesh blooming bright red. The brunette's head fell back, a choked cry erupting past her lips, and Barbara dug her fingers into the sheets, not sure she could stop herself from reaching out and taking over the task.
Bringing herself back under control, Helena continued on, voice scratchy, "Only, that wasn't enough. I needed more."
One hand disengaged itself from the torture of her nipples to slide downward, slipping easily beneath the waistband of her panties to bury itself in the wetness she found between her legs. Eyes fluttering closed, an animalistic moan echoing around the room at the first brush of her fingers over her erect clit, Helena soon had to abandon her breasts completely. Her other hand sank deep into the mattress beside Barbara's knees, body tilted back as her hand continued to work, and Barbara thought she would climax from the sight alone. Watching Helena, her hand trapped by innocent blue cotton, moving wildly beneath the thin confines of the cloth, chest heaving and eyes shut tightly, was too much. So, with a growl, she reached up, hands snapping the thin sides of the other woman's panties, the rendered fabric soon pulled roughly out of the way.
Strong fingers pulled Helena away from the exploration of her own flesh, and before she had time to register the change, Barbara's hands were on her, fingers of one hand sliding through her wetness to delve deeply inside of her, the other bringing Helena's fingers up to her mouth, lips instantly wrapping around the arousal-coated digits. Snarling, Helena brought her other hand up to cup the back of Barbara's neck, nails digging into the flesh there in an uneven line. With a surge of her hips, she took the redhead in deeper, nostrils flaring as she brought her head up, eyes gone black with arousal. Locking her gaze with Barbara's, she began to ride the fingers buried inside her, hips thrusting upward, body balanced precariously. Already teetering on the brink, the rough scrape of Barbara's thumb over her hypersensitive clit elicited a scream and the tight clench of her inner muscles, and with sweat beading on her brow, she moved faster and harder, stomach and thigh muscles rippling with effort, until finally her body froze, mouth opened wide on a soundless cry, body racked with uncontrollable spasms.
Taking advantage of the momentary weakness of nearly exhausted limbs, Barbara pulled Helena in to her, lips immediately finding the brunette's. Tongue slashing out, she attacked the other woman. Teeth nipped wildly and her free hand wound through the short hair at Helena's nape, holding her firmly in place as Barbara ravished her mouth, driven beyond the bounds of propriety by the sight of her lover's release.
But, already eager to continue her exploration of the redhead's body, Helena pulled away, tracing her lips down the line of Barbara's throat, the sharp edge of her teeth leaving a line of red and blue marks. Latching firmly onto the flesh at the base of the other woman's neck, feeling the irregular flutter of Barbara's heart beating just below the skin, she eased her hand between the other woman's legs, surprised by the wetness she found there.
Pressing forward, long fingers sliding deeply inside Barbara, she was soon rewarded by a gasp cut short, by the unconscious spasm of the fingers still buried in her hair. Certain she'd found one of the spots she was searching for, Helena looked upward, eyes burning, ragged voice laced with concern, she asked roughly, "Can I hurt you?"
The look on Barbara's face was almost animalistic, her voice a low growl. "I don't know. Right now, I don't care."
And, some part of Helena was past caring as well. Pressing firmly against the redhead's inner walls, she began to thrust, the movements blindingly fast. At the feel, Barbara's shoulders rose, unbidden, her body curling inward even as her nails scraped helplessly across Helena's back, eyes staring blindly off into space, open but seeing nothing. She was aware of little more than the sensation of Helena inside her, the coursing flame of arousal burning through her blood, and the harsh, alien panting of her own breath. She wanted to moan, to speak or cry out or say something, but found herself unable to do anything other than mumble a string of nonsense, the words encouraging despite their lack of lucidity. Already more turned on than she could ever remember being by Helena's earlier seduction, she soon tumbled easily into orgasm, eyes opening wide in surprise even as her body convulsed, as her fingers dug so fiercely into Helena's back that her nails drew blood.
When she collapsed bonelessly, head hitting the headboard with a thump and body still twitching helplessly, Helena followed her, sweat plastering their bodies tightly together. Trying to still her erratic breathing, Barbara ran the fingers of one hand through the brunette's hair in a soothing, rhythmic motion, the other cradling the slim form atop her own in a tight embrace. Too exhausted to speak, she slid effortlessly into sleep.
Helena heard the other woman's breathing even out, felt already limp limbs relax further, and pulled up, taking in the smooth lines of Barbara's face. After planting a light kiss on the other woman's lips, she tugged them both down until they were lying flat once more and then, curling up on top of Barbara, body almost completely supported by the one beneath hers, Helena followed the other woman into sleep.
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