Author: Janine
Disclaimers: I do not own the characters of Helena, Barbara, Dinah, Batman, and Catwoman etc. They are the property of DC comics and I suppose the WB network and the creators of Smallville or whatever. I�m just borrowing them for a short (well, sometimes extended J ) period of time.
Fandom: Birds of Prey
Rating: R (for language and sexual situations)
Pairing: Helena/Barbara
Summary: Sequel to "Batter My Heart" ... Barbara and Helena begin to explore their relationship as a strange phenomena falls over New Gotham.
Email:
jbslayer27@yahoo.com
*Note: Based on the fact that I read far to much of the schlock (ohmygod I spelt that right the first try!) the producers spewed out before the show was aired, I got a lot of ideas in my head about what was going that hasn�t necessarily been established as cannon on the show. Most notably 1) that there�s an actual non-conspicuous penthouse adjacent to the clock tower secret lair, thus making it an actual secret layer. And 2) that BOP is located in a time in the near future, about 10 years ahead of our current calendar � this came from various statements by WB monkeys that BOP couldn�t have any crossovers with Smallville because the Smallville characters would all be considerably older. So this my authors-note-thingy, and I hoped you enjoyed it*

| Ch 1-5 | Ch 6-10 | Ch 11-15 | Ch 16-20 | Ch 21-End |

Part 16

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"Are you two � getting along?" Barbara said into the microphone sounding confused and hopeful. They hadn�t been openly antagonistic and borderline violent towards each other since the first night Dick had shown up, but over the time that had followed they hadn�t shown any sign of actually becoming civil, let alone friendly towards each other. Considering the history between the three of them it didn�t surprise her, but it saddened her.

>>Reading Beauty awakes<< Helena replied. >>Did you really call just to find out how the kiddies were doing? <<

"Nice to hear you finally admit it," Barbara replied. "So the next time I tell you to eat your broccoli I don�t expect to hear any objections."

>>Next time? There was a first? You know what Broccoli is? << Helena responded smirking.

"I�m bored of talking to you," Barbara replied though her voice remained warm. "Nightwing can you hear me?"

>>Loud and clear � mostly loud though << Dick replied lightly. >>And I love broccoli<<

>>Oracle�s pet<< Helena muttered though her voice was without any real venom, instead sounding rather amused.

>>Broccoli and cheese whiz, broccoli and ranch dressing. Steamed broccoli, boiled broccoli, saut�ed broccoli. Broccoli, broccoli here and there, broccoli, broccoli, every where << Dick responded sighing dreamily at the end.

"And suddenly I wish you two were fighting again," Barbara interjected before Helena could butt in with another humorous, off-topic response. "I want you two to head over the Channel 11 news building. Their nightly broadcasts are the source of our problems."

>>Copy << Dick responded moving the edge of the building he was perched out, his hand on his grappling hook.

>>Copy? << Helena asked also moving towards the edge of her building. >>Roger, roger<< she continued in a keener voice, vocally saluting.

>>How old are you again? << Dick asked, his voice slightly obscured by air rushing past him.

>>Twelve << Helena responded without a moments hesitation.

>> You�re very mature for your age << Dick commented sarcastically, a slight scuffling coming through his transceiver as he landed on another rooftop.

>> When I�m good Oracle gives me �<<

"Mind on the mission!" Barbara interjected a touch of dread in her voice as she cut off Helena�s response.

>>I was gonna say cookies<< Helena responded a second later. >>But it�s nice to know that at least one of our minds is still in the gutter<<

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>>There�re still some people inside the building<< Helena said into her transceiver as she felt the air shift as Dick came to a stop beside her on the rooftop opposite the news building. There were still about ten cars in the parking lot, and she could make out shadows and silhouettes insides the building. >>We could sneak in but � << she continued trailing off as she settled her elbows on the stone ledge in front of her and leaned forward nonchalantly.

"No, you�re right, it�ll be easier and more effective if you just wait until the workaholics head home," Barbara agreed hearing the television turn on behind and swiveling to look at Dinah who was spread out across the couch in her pajamas yawning. She released the talk button. "Did you finish your homework?"

"Yes Warden," Dinah replied rolling her eyes. "I even put page numbers at the top. I�m almost studious," she continued stopping at the Late Show with Craig Kilborn. "I couldn�t sleep and figured this would put me down soon enough."

"Cause you�re such a fan of quality programming," Barbara remarked somewhat surprised that the blonde hadn�t turned to MTV or one of it�s billion affiliates. "Nothing could compare to �Cribs�," she went on placing her hands in front of her face and sucking in her cheeks gangsta style. "Word."

Dinah stared at her for a moment and then busted out laughing, shaking her head and laughing some more. "You should never do that again. Ever," she finally said though her shoulders still shook with laughter.

Barbara smirked at her conceding the point while toying with the idea of laying out the one verse of rap she had picked up monitoring detention hall one day. Something about there being a rocket in his pocket with two tickets to her ecstasy, one for him and for the chick standing next to him. But she decided against it. At some point in the future it would probably be beneficial for Dinah to respect her and she figured trying to rap would pretty much guarantee that that would never happen again.

>> Is it organic? << she heard Dick ask over the transceivers as she turned her attention back to the masked fighters. Were they playing twenty questions?

>> No << Helena replied simply.

>> Is it made of plastic or metal? << Dick asked.

>> Yes << Helena responded.

>>Well, which one? << Dick replied somewhat crossly.

>> Has to be a yes or no question << Helena responded easily.

>> My other question wasn�t yes or no << Dick pointed out somewhat darkly.

>>Sure it was, just not in a way that was at all helpful to you << Helena replied happily.

>> You can�t answer an either or question with yes or no << Dick declared.

>> According to the rules of logic you can, because by placing the �or� in there you�re making two separate premises one, so that an answer of yes or no would indeed satisfy the query. For example, if you asked me if Doug was in the shed or in the garden, I could reasonably say yes, because if Doug is in the shed then he�s in the shed or in the garden. You see my point? << Helena asked somewhat smugly.

>> That doesn�t sound quite right << Dick replied glaring at her.

"She�s correct actually," Barbara interjected sounding a bit surprised, which made Helena frown. "A simple proof is all that it would take to verify her claim. You see if Doug is represented by D, the shed by S, and the garden by G, then �"

>> I�m sorry << Helena whispered looking over at Dick as Barbara continued with her explanation obvious to their apathy for the subject. >>I thought she was still ignoring us, I never would have said anything otherwise. <<

>> It�s okay << Dick said nodding as Barbara explained that one of they symbols they�d be using was represented as a horseshoe turned to the side. >> We could throw rocks at that tin can until she�s done << he suggested.

>>Cool << Helena responded bending over a picking up a small pebble chucking it at the pop can that lay a dozen meters or so in front of them, smiling as it dinged the side and shot off to the side. >>Oooh, you liked that didn�t you? << She asked Dick grinning. >>So pretty, so very pretty << she continued licking the tip of her finger and making a sizzling sound with her mouth.

Dick placed a small pebble on his nail of his thumb and placed one hand over his eyes before flicking the pebble in the direction of the can watching as it pinged and flew off as well. >> What was it the kids used to say? Oh yeah � BURN << Dick smiled snapping his fingers before pointing two finger guns in Helena�s direction.

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Helena slowly crossed the floor, practically gliding cross the surface creating no noise as she moved, her head turning from side to side carefully scanning her surrounding with an uncanny precision.

>>What exactly are we looking for again? << Helena asked as she looked around the editing room and at the editing machines having no idea if something was out of place or not.

"Anything that looks out of the ordinary," Barbara replied sighing. "I can�t really give you anything concrete because I just don�t know."

>> I take it that a machine that says �Brainwashing done here, press flashing button to learn how� with a huge red arrow pointing at it would be too much to ask for? << Dick asked as he moved around one of the offices at the end of the room Helena was searching.

"Only, you know, in the real world," Barbara replied hearing Helena snort with amusement though the brunette made no verbal response. "I don�t know," she continued a second later sighing as she thought about the situation. "It might be better if you two came back and picked up some micro cameras to set up around the production areas of the building."

>> That might be a good idea << Dick responded straightening up and closing the drawer he had been looking in. >> In any case if someone was acting especially strange-like we could � <<

"Huntress?" Barbara asked curiously interrupting Dick. Helena had been silent for a few minutes, and while that in itself wasn�t usual the nature of the silence was. She was too still, too silent, Barbara could barely make out the sound of her breathing.

>> Someone�s here << Helena breathed out her voice distracted and a bit raspy. >> Checking it out << she continued pointing two fingers the direction opposite the one she was moving in as she saw Dick come out of the office.

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"Hi," Helena said popping out in front of the noisy figure, a large grin covering her features. "Oh, that doesn�t look very legal," she continued glancing down to the lock pick in his gloved hands also spotting a cell phone as she looked. "What�s this?" she asked grabbing it and flipping it open to see strange equations pop up on the screen. She raised an eyebrow and reached out grasping the stunned man by the arm and flung him down the hallway towards where Dick was standing.

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Helena leaned against the basement wall languidly though her eyes were sharp and alert in a way that would have belayed her stance if someone had been close enough to see them. She held the cell phone in her hand. It now had a thin cable coming out of the end of it that disappeared into a pocket inside of Helena�s jacket.

The man she had found was seated on the cold, concrete floor with Dick standing imposingly in front of him, speaking to him firmly but considerately.

"Fuck you man, I don�t know what the fuck your talking about � man," the guy said to Dick trying to stand up.

It was an interrogation technique that was getting them nowhere in a hurry.

>>I�ve got it << she heard Barbara say into her ear.

She simply pulled the connection cable out of the jack and tucked it back into her pocket, shoving the phone itself into an outside pocket before slowly walking over to the man and Dick.

"You know Nightwing," she started slowly looking down at him. "I don�t think that this is working," she continued her voice hardening as she bent down and grabbed the man hard under the chin. "He�s just too smart to fall for our brilliant and rare use of reverse psychology," she went on still holding him, her feral eyes studying him as she spoke with a creepy calm. It was time for the good masked crusader/bad masked crusader routine. "I think we�re gonna have to try something else," she decided releasing him and straightening up once more, her lips curving up into a cold smile.

Dick considered her for a second and then spoke. "Huntress," he started in a tone he hoped was suitably warning. "I�m sure if we just �" he continued looking at her in a consciously beseeching way.

"Sssh," Helena said looking over at Dick, holding his eyes for a second longer than was necessary. "Just � fucking sssh," she continued bringing two fingers up in front of her face and moving them closely together so that there was barely any space between them.

"Listen," she continued turning her attention back to the man on the floor. "This is the situation. People are going psycho all over the city," she went on looking at him thoughtfully her voice almost cooingly. "You know why, how, and the procedure to reverse it. This is information that we wan � nay need. It�s information we intend to get one way or another. And it�s information that we have a limited amount of time to gather," she explained running her gloved finger down his cheek a bit roughly. "You, sir," she stated scornfully smiling at him. "Are going to give me this information, right now," she finished smiling again as the man turned his head to the side away from her touch.

"Go to hell, I don�t know shit," the man responded staring up at her.

Helena turned towards Dick and smiled, laughing slightly. "I�d say that�s fairly obvious," she commented sounding amused.

"Huntress," Dick said in a warning tone not sure whether he was playing along with her still or starting to get genuinely concerned. She looked a bit too happy and wondered if the bad cop thing was a routine with her or par the course.

Helena ignored him, merely crouching down in front of the man.

"Despite how amusing and probably generally true that statement was, it really wasn�t the smartest thing to do," Helena said conversationally looking at him contemplatively. "You see, deadlines make me � cross, I guess," she went on rubbing at her chin. "I�m really not at my most charming under time restraints. And, like I mentioned before, I am on a rather ungenerous schedule," she continued sniffing slightly and looking down at the ground before suddenly reaching out her hand and grasping him around the throat. "I guess what I�m trying to say is that I�m not in the mood for shit and a package of Huggie�s extra absorbent couldn�t hold what you�re excreting," she said tightening her hold on him a bit. "So you�re gonna want to start talking before I start feeling real unsociable."

The man snorted derisively and looked away from her though his eyes were wider than normal and his breathing had increased. "Is this the part where I�m supposed to be intimidated or something? Cause all fucking a hundred and twenty pounds of you is real fucking scary. You shoulda been the good cop, gone and picked me up some coffee for putting me out like this," he chocked out laughing softly. "Maybe you should get your gentleman friend to take ov �" he suggested before she squeezed a little harder and whatever else he was going to say got cut off.

"You�d be amazed at the amount of trauma the human body can sustain," Helena stated seemingly oblivious to what the man she was holding had been saying, her tone awed and full of loathing at the same time. Her eyes were dark and distant. "Gallons of blood can be lost, nerve endings frayed and completely severed, massive electrical disruptions making organs and appendages spasm, internal hemorrhaging, blood pouring out of bodily openings and still � life. It�s always kind of fascinated me," she went on her voice cracking momentarily before she drew a finger from her free hand across his throat. "Pain I mean. I think that maybe if you keep being so uncooperative you�ll help me out with an experiment," she said decisively turning her eyes back towards him. "Cable television�s a horrible thing. I�ve been watching the news too much, the news and surgical operations," she continued reaching behind her and pulling a switchblade out of her jacket, smoothly extending the blade.

She considered the shiny surface for a moment, her body completely still, and then brought it up to her lips and licked it then watched for a moment as it shimmered in the light.

"Are you fucking crazy?" the man asked watching her. "Is she fucking CRAZY!?!" he asked again looking beyond Helena to Dick who was beginning to wonder that himself. It wasn�t like he was against roughing up uncooperative suspects. Sometimes it was just what they needed to be cooperative. It was certainly an angle that he had been about to approach this time before Helena butted in. But there was something disturbing about seeing her lick that knife, especially knowing how her mother had died. Because there was something sensual and intimate about it, it went beyond merely being predatory. It suggested something deeper than theatrics. It was more than a little creepy. "Fucking do something!" the man called again.

"Fucking do something," Helena repeated in a mocking tone tilting her head from side to side before bringing her free hand up to her eye and rubbing contemptuously. "Baby want his ba-ba?" she asked before turning to face Dick. "Don�t worry the person on TV survived," she offered with a shrug. "I�ve been finding it way difficult to control my impulses lately," she continued looking back at the man. "Like I saw this kidney removed, and recently I�ve been like obsessing about discovering how much it would hurt without an anesthetic," she went on pushing on his shoulders and moving to straddle his waist as he began to struggle against her. "It�d be � impetuous to try and educate myself now, but there�s been a lot of that going around lately so maybe I shouldn�t feel so bad," she said as she pushed his shirt up slightly, clucking her tongue at him as he began to struggle again the tip of the knife resting against he abdomen. "Oh, who am I kidding, I wouldn�t have felt bad anyway."

"You wouldn�t do it," he said his voice shaking as he looked up at her. "You can�t! You�re like a fucking champion of justice or some shit. Like a fucking hero."

"Anti-hero actually," Helena said smirking down at him. "I like my avenging black like everything else," she continued her voice eerily serious. "Maybe I have issues," she went on thoughtfully. "But that�s kind of your problem now isn�t it?" she asked him sounding pleasantly amused.

>>Don�t<< Barbara said into the receiver hearing Dick muttering and a slight shuffling that indicated he was moving. >>Nightwing. Don�t interfere<<

"I know I�m a rule breaker and all that but she�s talking about torturing him. And she�s doing it with pep. I don�t care if it�s the fucking quickest way, I�m not going to let her just �" Dick started.

>>Proposing<< Barbara said cutting him off. >> She�s just talking. She won�t actually hurt him � at least not too much << she added with a slight sigh.

"It don�t like it," Dick said not really sharing Barbara�s confidence that Helena wouldn�t start an impromptu surgical exercise.

>> Neither do I << Barbara said wearily. >>But the city�s gone mad and this guy knows how to stop it, or at least who could stop it << she continued not really believing that the man was anything more than a semi-literate lackey. >>It�ll stay in hand. Trust me <<

"So what�s it gonna be," Helena said looking at the man somberly. "Are you going to tell me what I want to know, or are we about to become acquainted from the inside out?" she asked. "Cause, seriously, you fuck with me anymore and I swear I�ll cut you on principle," she finished poking the knife into him enough to draw a small tickle of blood.

"Don�t cut me," the man said his body shaking slightly as he sniffled and blinked rapidly trying to contain tears. "I don�t even � I mean this crazy bitch she just. I swear, I�m just supposed to download the instructions into the computer and go around with a video camera taping the looting and shit. I don�t even � do I look like a fucking genius? I don�t know what the hell any of it means. This crazy bitch just � she fucking pays well. Don�t cut me," he finished practically sobbing, his body shaking as he choked out the last few words.

"This crazy bitch have a name?" Helena asked standing up and moving away from him before the projectile snot that had started to shoot out of his nose as he blubbered could get on her. That�s just what she would�ve needed to make it her most perfect night ever, she thought to herself as she looked down at him with a faintly aghast look on her face.

"Quinn, Harley Quinn," the man sniveled immediately. "She fucking cr�"

"Crazy, I got that," Helena interjected cutting him off her body rocking slightly as she bounced on her feet, adrenaline still furiously pumping through her body. "What happens when you download this crap onto the computer? What computer is it?" she asked feeling Dick come up beside. He was tense. She could feel it rolling off of him.

"I swear, I swear I don�t know. I just download it onto this chicks computer that�s all I do. Isabella Blue. I download it onto her computer and that�s all I do," he answered looking up at Helena.

"And tape the chaos?" Dick asked looking down at the man. "That your idea, or did this Harley Quinn tell you to do that too?"

"Quinn man, everything�s that�s bitches idea. She likes to watch everyone going nuts. She gets off on it. It�s fucking abnormal," he replied starting to get his sniffling and crying under control, pulling himself up into a slightly respectable sitting position.

"Is that it?" Helena asked stepping towards him again, not quite wanting him to begin feeling comfortable yet.

"Yeah, sure," he said cowering a bit more. She still had the knife out. "I mean, she told me not to watch the news, she said it�d make me feel funny for a while and she wanted me at my best."

"For a while?" Dick asked.

"Yeah," the man responded.

"So the effects aren�t permanent?" Dick asked stepping towards him as well.

"I dunno, I swear I don�t have a goddamn clue," the man answered holding up his hand peacefully.

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>> Isabella Blue lives at McMaster and John. A small walkup, number 12435. She�s in apartment 304 << Barbara related to Helena as the brunette up against the outside wall of the news building, her head resting against the brick and the bottom of one of her feet braced against the wall as well as she stared up at the sky.

"Got it," Helena responded turning her head as she heard Dick exit the building. "Or should I say �copy�," she continued watching him walk over to her. "Going radio silent, we�ll contact you when we get to Blue."

"Oracle find her?" Dick asked looking at Helena a bit frostily. He left the man tied up and gagged in the main hallway. Someone would probably be around to find him in a couple of hours.

"McMaster and John. Apartment 304," Helena replied pushing off the building. "It is 1984 bro, and Big Sister is always on the prowl."

"Wait," Dick said grasping her about the arm before she could take off for the rooftops. "Back there. That was insane, you know that right?"

Helena simply stared at him with some exasperation.

"You weren�t really going to cut out his kidney were you?" Dick asked staring at her hard, his hand falling away from her arm when she looked down at it.

"Not right away," Helena responded. "I would�ve tried hitting him first."

Dick stared at her for a long moment after that searching her eyes. His immediate instinct was to tell her that her flippant comment wasn�t funny, but as he watched her calmly watch him, he realized that she wasn�t trying to be funny or dark. She meant it. She would�ve cut him, she would�ve hit him, and watching as she impatiently looked back up towards the rooftops before turning to consider him with a slightly irritated look on her features, he realized that if she had cut him she probably wouldn�t have been all that bothered by it.

" � across the thin line," he muttered to himself as he continued to look at her.

"What?" Helena asked in an annoyed tone as she looked at him.

"We walk a thin line, those of us in the life," he said in a normal face looking at her steadily. "When you can�t tell the difference between criminals and the crime fighter you�ve crossed that line, gone too far. If what we do is to have any meaning we have to thread on that line carefully, constantly choosing to be more cop than criminal, because when �" Dick started looking at her.

"Must be nice," Helena said cutting him off, her tone snide and her lips turning up in a slight sneer as she spoke. "To live in such a neat little world," she continued. "I always did like black and white photography, it�s so quaint. But I could never quite get around to adopting it as a world view."

"What�s that suppose to mean?" Dick asked meeting her gaze, his expression challenging and deeply unhappy.

"Only that things aren�t so simple for me as they are for you. And even Barbara. I can�t see anything but gray. I don�t have that deep down light inside, those warm and fuzzy feelings about the world," Helena replied, her voice losing its hard edge as she spoke until she was almost whispering. "The line, it shifts, like a shadow rotating with the sun. I feel," she went on practically hissing the word. "The ends justify the means. I know they don�t. My armor doesn�t gleam," she continued in a weary tone. "And still I manage to do okay," she added cutting him off seeing that he was about to speak holding up her hand with some irritation. "What do you say we do the crime fighting thing now, huh and talk about my apparently numerous inadequacies later?" she suggested, her tone tetchy as she moved towards the nearest building.

Dick sighed and moved to follow her.

---------------------------------------------------

"Well what the fuck�s you�re bright idea?" Helena asked turning to face Dick not bothering to pretend she wanted to be anywhere in his vicinity at the moment. "Knock at the door, say �Superhero�s at your service�? �Really we�re the good kind of masked stranger showing up at your door announced in the middle of the fucking night�," she continued turning away from him making an impolite sound and rolling her eyes as she stared at apartment 304 from across the road.

"I suppose you�d rather kick something in," Dick replied also looking across the street. "A door, a window � a head maybe," he continued staring over at her. "I know, maybe you could break down her door, run across the room and kick out her window and then threaten to cut out her spleen until confesses to shooting Roger Rabbit? Then maybe you can whine for a while about being tortured and misunderstood because I haven�t heard that about five fucking minutes!"

"Keep talking princess and �" Helena started threateningly.

>> SHUT UP! BOTH OF YOU. Just. Shut. Up! << Barbara yelled into the microphone causing both Helena and Dick to wince as her voice shot straight through their heads, Helena actually grabbing at her head, her enhanced hearing particularly hurt by the loud tone. >>This is NOT productive<< she continued. They�d turned back on their transceivers when they�d arrived across the way from Blue�s apartment and she hadn�t heard anything but the two of them bickering once that had happened.

And still, she realized with a sigh, hearing them begin to play the blame game.

"Oh lick my �" Helena started in an antagonistic tone.

>> Huntress! << Barbara yelled again impatiently.

"You can fucking lick my �"

>> Finish that and I swear you�ll regret it << Barbara stated loudly but calmly cutting off Helena�s reply. >> If you two want to reenact some more scenes from Junior High, maybe take things behind the swing set, then please let me know because I�ll take care of this if you�re not up to the job<<

Things were silent on the other end of the transceiver for a moment, though Barbara fancied that she could hear them glaring at each other.

"Alright Fearless Leader, what�s the plan?" Helena asked her words sarcastic, but her tone soft and chastised.

>> Nightwing, are you carrying any sleep pellets? << Barbara asked her tone lighter, almost conversational, trying to dislodge some of the tension that had coated their previous words.

"Three or so," Dick responded keeping his eyes focused across the street knowing that if he looked at Helena he�d be overtaken by the urge to throttle her.

>> Alright. << Barbara responded clapping her hands together. "Although it IS somewhat unorthodox I want you to try knocking at the door, talking to her. You two have gotten some press over the last week so she just might be willing to talk to you. If she�s not, gas her and bring her back here for questioning << she instructed, leaning back waiting for any objections and relieved to hear none.

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Helena stood facing the door of apartment 304 with her head bowed slightly causing her hair to fall forward obscuring her face enough that anybody looking through the peephole wouldn�t be able to make out her masked features.

Dick stood beside her but to the side, turning his head from side to side scanning the hallways.

"Who is it?" Helena looked up as she heard the voice inside, faint through the door. She smiled glad to see someone so safety conscious in the city, Isabella had asked without unlocking the door.

"Superhero�s at your service, we�d like to ask you a few questions if that�d be agreeable to you," she responded smiling at the peephole.

"How do I know you�re actually her and not some psycho?" Blue asked curiously. Helena could practically see her leaning closer to the door.

"You�ve been feeling a bit funny lately haven�t you? Not quite yourself. I think we both know why, and that it would be in all of our best interests if you let us in for a little chat," Helena responded. "What do you say?"

"If I say no, what happens?" Blue asked.

"I say yes, and we come in anyway. Make this easy on yourself Isabella. We�re still willing to be friendly," Helena responded shrugging still looking at the peephole.

The door opened hesitantly a moment later.

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"Listen," Dick said his voice firm but patient. "We know you�re involved in this. We caught your colleague on his way to deliver your next set of instructions less than an hour ago. He gave you up. The only thing he didn�t tell us about you was your shoe size, so denying any involvement is futile," he continued looking her in the eye.

>> You don�t suppose she could be telling the truth? << Barbara asked over the transceiver, her question directed mostly toward Helena. She could hear everything that was going on, but by not being able to see Isabella Blue�s body language was missing out on an important part of the questioning process. However, she trusted Helena�s interpretation of Blue, whatever it may have been. The brunette had amazingly good instincts that way.

"Yes and no," Helena responded softly. She was seated on the couch, legs crossed watching Dick question the dirty-blonde woman with a somewhat bored expression as she slouched slightly. "I don�t think she�s lying, but I know that fuckwit back at Channel 11 was telling the truth too."

>> How? << Barbara asked.

"He was too scared to lie. Fear brings out honesty," Helena responded straightening up somewhat before moving to her feet gracefully. "We�re dealing with mind manipulation right? Maybe �"

>> She is involved and doesn�t know it << Barbara interjected finishing Helena�s statement.

"Yeah," Helena said walking over behind Dick, looking at Isabella over his shoulder. "You gonna send the kid over or should we gas her?" she continued her voice dropping to a whisper as she turned her back towards the other two.

>> Bring her in. I want to run some scans on her. Besides, you know who is asleep and it�ll take the time you need to get back her to get her cognizant << Barbara replied.

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Part 17

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"Actually, it�d be better if I went in now," Dinah said drawing Barbara attention over to her from where the redhead�s eyes had been focused on the monitor in front of her. "It�s easier to scan people when they�re unconscious. Her defenses will be down and I�ll be able to do more digging than if she were awake and fighting it," she continued settling herself against the desk, still rubbing at her eyes absently before yawning once more.

"Want some coffee beans to chew on?" Helena muttered looking over at Dinah from the spot where she was hovering beside Barbara, inching towards and away from the redhead alternately, wanting to touch her, seek some physical comfort, drawn to the warmth of Barbara�s body, but also feeling something inside, that confused and scared her, tugging her away, urging her to keep her distance.

"I�d be easier, sure," Barbara responded focusing on Dinah. "But I�m uneasy with the idea of going into her mind when she�s not conscious. Certainly I don�t exactly have an ethical soapbox to stand on having helped essentially kidnap her � but I think on top of everything else she�s been through tonight, it would be distasteful."

"Distasteful?" Dinah asked looking at Barbara smirking slightly. "Right," she continued looking over towards Helena and finding the brunette in a serious contemplation of the floor. "I guess it would be kind of � not good," she went on looking around the room seeing Dick sulking a few meters away and wondering if there was a good place in the loft to avoid people�s gazes that night.

"It�s just that �" Barbara started to say, but stopping when she heard a coughing sound slightly in front of her and to her side. Looking over she saw Isabella coughing, her hand pinching and rubbing at her nose before drifting up her eyes and encountering a soft material.

She sat up straighter in the chair and began to look from side to side unseeing and growing agitated.

"Please, don�t be afraid," Barbara said gently rolling over to her, coming to a stop just in front of her. "I realize that this is probably the definition of a rude awakening, but I promise you we intend you no harm," she continued seeing the woman�s head turn towards the sound of her voice, her body still tense though her breathing seemed to slow and steady somewhat.

"Who are you? What am I doing here? I don�t understand, I �"

"We�re good guys. You�re here because we need you�re help, and I�m going to do all I can to help you understand what�s happening," Barbara interjected gently, her voice soothing and warm.

------------------------------------------------

"Here�s some water," Dinah said smiling in effort to try and keep her voice calm and friendly.

Isabella reached out her hand searching for the water. Dinah grasped it, leading her hand towards the glass before her eyes fluttered shut and she found herself drawn into Isabella�s mind.

Images of a dog, grocery lists, fabric squares, family, friends, restaurants, a seated blonde woman in red, a busy room with lots of machines, New Gotham Park, a crossword, and a myriad of other images rushed into Dinah�s mind, bright and vivid, snapshots of Isabella�s life.

"Careful now, don�t drink it all at one time," Dinah said releasing her hand leaving the glass, now firmly, in Isabella�s grasp.

Dinah crossed over to where Barbara was seated and bent over leaning close to the redhead, her lips beside her ear.

"Nothing at all espionage like, grocery lists, pet concerns, quiet spots to escape to. If she�s involved, she has no conscious memory of it," Dinah whispered shaking her head slightly.

-------------------------------------------------

Helena stood behind Isabella as she sat in front of a monitor with a non-reflective screen over it, her fingers holding up the end of the woman�s blindfold carefully allowing her to view the information display on the monitor.

"The brain displayed on the left is a brain showing normal activity, your proverbial textbook case. The brain on the right, is your brain which was scanned into the computers through the electrodes attached to your temples," Barbara explained, seeing Helena�s arm muscles flex slightly as she keep Blue�s head facing the screen as the woman tried to turn to face her. "You can see in the one quadrant that the levels of activity are highly elevated, and that in the other section slightly below and to the left of it, that the levels are below normal. You can see that right?"

"Yes," Isabella responded softly. "Yes," she repeated again a bit louder in a firmer voice. Barbara nodded for Helena to put the blindfold back down.

"The disparity between the two is not naturally occurring," Barbara stated as Helena turned Isabella�s chair to face her. "What that means is that somebody has been manipulating your mind."

"Why? Why would somebody do that?" Isabella asked, her voice agitated as she strained forward and turned her head from side to side. Barbara watched her for a moment wishing that she could remove the woman�s blindfold, knowing that simply being able to see the face of the voice she was talking to, being able to look around her surrounding and into the eyes of the people around her would�ve relieved a great deal of her anxiousness, and given her even a minor feeling of being somewhat in control of or at least fully a part of what was happening to her. Knowing this, and knowing that she couldn�t do it, no matter how much it hurt her heart not to.

"We believe someone is using your position as chief editor of the nightly news to insert brain altering subliminal signals into the nightly broadcasts that are negatively affecting the viewers of the nightly news, which has been the catalyst for the recent crime wave sweeping New Gotham," Barbara replied drawing the woman�s attention to her trying to keep her tone soothing. "The machine�s finished analyzing the blood sample you let me take a few minutes ago," she continued wanting to get down business having wasted a considerable amount of time on useless exposition to make Isabella feel more at home. "And it showed trace�s of a slightly modified drug called Prometoxin which is used by therapists and psychologists for suggestion," she went on. "Do you know any therapists or people involved in the field of psychology?"

"Well," Isabella said slowly, thoughtfully, as if she wasn�t sure she wanted to continue. "I am seeing a therapist," she went on hesitantly. "Not for anything serious, I just �"

"Of course not," Barbara interjected not really needing to hear the woman�s justification for something she didn�t think needed to be justified. "What�s your therapist�s name?"

"I�m not going to get her in trouble am I?" Isabella asked a bit uncertainly.

"If she�s done nothing wrong, she�s got nothing to worry about," Barbara replied. "Her name?"

"Quinzel. Harleen Quinzel," Isabella sighed her head tilted down towards her lap.

Barbara saw Helena straighten up until her back looked painfully rigid out the corner of her eye, and turned her head to the side looking up to meet Helena�s gaze. The brunette�s lips were drawn together forming a thin line and her jaw set. Her eyes dark and still. She was surprised and deeply unhappy, not at all a good combination.

"Do you remember anything usual happening during any of you sessions with Dr. Quinzel?" Barbara asked watching as Helena moved away from her and settled herself against a wall a few meters away, her head tilted towards the clock face staring at it intently.

"No, not really," Blue responded looking thoughtful. "I actually don�t really remember much of anything about the sessions. Well, other than the fact that I always feel so relaxed and at peace after them. She really is a miracle worker."

"No doubt," Barbara sighed glancing over towards Dick and catching his eye. "Thank you Ms. Blue, and we apologize for the inconvenience and any trauma this experience might have caused you. Nightwing will see that you get home safely."

"Night wh�" Isabella started as Dick wrapped his arm around her helping her into a standing position. "Ohhhh," she said immediately relaxing into his body.

Barbara smirked at him and Dick rolled his eyes.

"Watch your step," he said to Isabella as he carefully navigated through the clock tower towards the door.

---------------------------------------------------------

"Alfred swung by, there�s real food in the fridge," Barbara commented entering the kitchen to see Helena perched on top of the island legged crossed with part of a frosted pop tart hanging out of her mouth.

"Don�t want anything heavy," Helena responded after swallowing what was in her mouth and lowering the rest of the pastry-type-thing. "Just need to get my blood sugar level up, you know how crotchety I can get," she continued offering Barbara a tiny little smile before taking up a detailed study of the dispersal pattern of the sprinkles on her pop tart.

Barbara moved over until she was seated beside the island and then bent her head forward letting her forehead rest against Helena�s knee for a moment, before whispering, "Talk to me."

"What�s there to say," Helena replied after a long silence. Barbara looked up at her. "I�ve been baring what little soul I have to manipulative, very probably psychotic, criminal genius, that I was so completely fooled by for six months that I continued to show up for her mind fucks after the court considered me cured," she continued staring forward her features tight. "The entire situations completely Fubar. That�s all," she finished shrugging.

Barbara considered her for a moment, trying to access the brunette�s mood. Her back was ramrod straight, and she hadn�t looked Barbara in the eye since she�d come into the room, she refused food, she�d tensed when Barbara had touched her though she�d forced herself not to remove herself from the contact, and she was being reflectively terse with her answers.

She wasn�t in a mood to talk about it.

"In retrospect, is there anything about your sessions with her that you�d consider strange or even unconventional?" Barbara asked deciding to talk to Helena later on, after she had had some time to process the information and get a handle on how she was feeling about it.

"I don�t know," Helena breathed out sounding frustrated and irritated as she untucked her legs from beneath them and swung them over the edge of the island so that they were hanging on both sides of Barbara�s body, leaving the redhead, in effect, between her legs. "She kind of reinforces almost everything I say in a roundabout way," she continued seconds later, sighing as she went, her eyes on something on the wall behind Barbara. "Like when I told her I don�t trust cops, she said that the police were here to protect and serve us, that�s it�s their job to look out for us. Which is a great patriotic answer. But then she goes on say this mind bending shit about how in return for their sacrifice we the people in turn have to trust them so that they can do their jobs, even if not all cops are good and, most, like lots of people in positions of power abuse their privilege, becoming corrupted by it, using it for personal gain against the public interest. But, that despite minor quibbles - like cops racquetering, tampering with evidence, and beating suspects - there�s no reason we shouldn�t trust them," Helena related glancing down at her lap. "I mean after that I kind of wanted to tip a cruiser, or start a revolution � you know if I could get up in the morning."

Barbara was silent for a moment after Helena finished speaking, deeply troubled by what the brunette had just told her. Dr. Quinzel either had a predilection for playing with people�s minds and manipulating them in a deliberate but seemingly reasonless manner. Or she was dangerously incompetent and riddled with issues she was projecting onto her clients. Either way there was no good in the situation.

"Finish your pop tart, it�s late," Barbara said finally, resting her hand on Helena�s knee. Her thumb stroking the leather clad surface lightly.

"I don�t want the pop tart anymore," Helena said looking at Barbara, her lips curving up slightly before she hopped down off of the island and held out her hand to the redhead.

===============================================

Part 18

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The next night �

Barbara felt Helena�s hand come to rest on her shoulder. The touch was heavier than usual. Helena had been distant and moody, spending most of the previous night out on the balcony staring down at the city from her gargoyled perch after she had taken Barbara to bed and then just taken her. Repeatedly. She�d stayed in bed for a while after that and then had gotten up sneaking out of the room not returning until early morning. Then she had disappeared an hour later, sneaking out of the clock tower while Barbara had gone to shower.

Barbara hadn�t heard from her or seen her all day after that until the brunette had wordlessly shown up a few moments before.

Barbara swiveled the chair to face Helena.

The brunette looked at her steadily for a moment, her features tightly drawn and her body humming with tension as her eyes burned brightly. Then she leaned forward and roughly brushed her lips against Barbara�s, one of her hands moving around to the back of Barbara�s head grasping the base of her neck firmly drawing the redhead closer to her as she deepened the kiss with a bruising intensity as she pushed her body into Barbara�s hastily.

She felt light-headed about to float off or spin out of control, the parts of her body that were in contact with Barbara the only things keeping her attached to the ground, to reality, to anything outside of her own head.

Her heart hurt, it stung her like it had been lacerated, she could feel the blood seeping out dripping all over her, the events of the night before having slashed at her and maimed her. Her head pounded and throbbed as if it was deliberately trying to wound her, her own body turning against her as she struggled against the world and her will.

She was angry and confused and it made her feel ashamed and even angrier. She hated what was happening inside of her, the doubt and fury stirring within, hammering at her soul, twisting her insides, her gut a furnace raging bright, her tears like spears assaulting her driving her into the dark.

It made fresh wells of rage and sorrow begin to swell and churn within her, rising up and crashing against her weakened defenses. Was it all a sham, just fucking lies and deceit and loss? Did nothing ever change? Was she doomed to forever be cast into the shadows of the night? Thrust into the dark by her very makeup, or by the decree of a diseased world and its perverted minds? Was she any better or was she merely doing a better job lying to herself than everyone else?

She didn�t want to think about it anymore. It was making her crazy.

She drew her arms around Barbara�s body and picked her up out of the chair, placing her down on the desk she had been seated in front of, her hands immediately going to the hem of Barbara�s shirt lifting it up still kissing the redhead hard and desperately.

She could taste truth on those soft, red lips. They were warm and moist like the earth and she felt safe and sane when they touched her, the caress traveling deep down inside of her enveloping her in warmth. She needed those lips, those arms, that body, with her, pressed against her at that moment as much as she needed air � maybe more so.

"Helena," Barbara breathed out as the brunette lifted her lips from hers for a moment to lift her shirt over her head. She didn�t raise her arms. Instead she tried to push the material back down. "Helena," she repeated more sharply when the brunette simply started to struggle with her restraining hands as she continued to attempt to lift the shirt up. "Dinah�s just in the penthouse, she could come in," she continued still battling with Helena�s hands before grasping them about the wrist firmly to keep them off of her even though her own body was humming with excitement.

After they had become a couple, Helena had come to her a couple of times like this, her body full of naked want, her hands caressing her urgently with no pretense of romance only intense pleasure. And she loved those rough, primal joining�s as much as she did the times when they made love slowly, for hours on end. It excited her, sometimes more than she liked to admit, and if she played coy at all during these encounters it was for the benefit of the game, and even that was only for while, Helena usually eventually finding herself having fight to gain control of their love making once more. But this time was different, it wasn�t adrenaline fueled battle lust, or pure, aching desire that had Helena reaching for her. It was desperation to be sure, but Barbara wasn�t certain if this was the best way to deal with Helena�s emotional turmoil no matter how much her body might�ve been disagreeing with her mind.

Helena looked up at her, her lips slightly parted, her eyes wide, watery and vaguely panicked. She stared at Barbara, no longer struggling against the redhead�s hold on her, at least for the moment, allowing Barbara to hold her hands as she stared at the redhead with an open and wounded expression that was at once, begging and confused, lost and hungry and searching and despairing. She was yearning for something, something she couldn�t identify but saw inside of Barbara nonetheless.

She tested Barbara�s hold a few seconds later finding it loose as the redhead studied her, one of her hands actually at Helena�s forehead brushing back stray strands of hair. She began to try and lift Barbara�s shirt off again, her movements jerky and frantic once more as if Barbara�s flesh were air and she was drowning.

Barbara raised her arms allowing the shirt to be removed, not able or wanting to deny Helena the release she sought so desperately. The offending garment was quickly dropped to the ground, forgotten by the brunette before her fingers released it, as Helena leaned forward once more, bringing their lips together as she pressed herself into Barbara�s body, forcing the redhead to recline as she supported her back with her left arm.

------------------------------------------------

Helena could feel the heat from Barbara�s body seeping into her even through the material of her shirt and pants, the redhead�s feverish heat reaching into her as Barbara surged forward in time with her hand, soft sounds escaping from her throat as her chest rose and fell rapidly and her hips bucked.

Helena shifted her position, taking one of Barbara�s legs in her hand and placing it to rest over her shoulder, her head settling on Barbara�s chest as the hand she�d used to position Barbara�s leg remained on the appendage, holding and stroking it.

She gazed up at Barbara, her chin resting in the spot between Barbara�s navel and breasts, as her right hand continued move unwaveringly inside of the redhead, driving forward intensely as her eyes remained locked on her lover�s face.

"Do you love me?" Helena whispered her eyes still trained on Barbara�s face. "Do you love me?" she asked again, louder, her voice a touch demanding when Barbara didn�t respond, her head instead turning to the side as she gasped.

Barbara heard her the second time and tilted her head down so that she could see Helena looking at her as her arm moved. She blinked trying to focus on the blue eyes burning into hers, though they only seemed to serve as an aphrodisiac, the passion in them intensifying her pleasure making it all that more difficult to concentrate. She lifted her hand from where it lay on the side of the desk and placed it on Helena�s head, her fingers roughly sliding through her hair until they came to rest at the nape of her neck.

"I love you," she said breathlessly but emphatically holding Helena�s gaze.

"Is it real?" Helena asked softly, increasing the pace with which she was thrusting into Barbara, her thumb moving to attack the redhead�s clit with more determination as she kissed the salty skin of Barbara�s stomach, nipping and licking at it as her nails drew up and down along Barbara�s still amazingly well-muscled thigh possessively.

"Completely," Barbara gasped, her eyes fluttering shut as her hand fell away from Helena�s head, only to return a moment later when she could find no handhold or anything to grasp on the smooth surface of the desk.

"You love me," Helena stated practically burying her face in Barbara�s stomach.

"I love you," Barbara confirmed her eyes shooting open and attaching themselves to some random spot on the roof as her fingers gripped Helena�s hair, holding her tightly.

"It�s real," Helena stated sighing as she felt Barbara�s warmth tighten around her fingers tugging at them, drawing her further inside of the redhead, holding onto her as desperately as she�d attached herself to Barbara many minutes before.

"It�s real," Barbara confirmed panting, her hips jumping uncontrollably as her stomach quivered.

"You love me," Helena repeated sliding up Barbara�s body so that her face was over the redhead�s looking down at her, needing to see her face as she came.

"I love you," Barbara gasped her hand sliding down to grasp Helena�s arm tightly as her body strained forward one last time and a ragged moan escaped from her lips while her body quaked and shivered.

--------------------------------------------------------

Barbara inhaled deeply blinking a few times as her mind began to clear. She could feel a weight on her body and a roughness against her skin as she drew in deep breaths. She looked down to see Helena�s still leather clad body resting on top of her, the brunette�s forehead resting on the smooth surface of the desk just beside her own.

"Hel," Barbara said softly, her hand coming to stroke the brunette�s tussled hair.

Helena said nothing, but moved her head to rest on Barbara�s shoulder, practically trying to burrow into her neck, her arms moving to wrap themselves around Barbara�s torso as tightly as their position would allow.

"I trusted her," Helena muttered softly, her tone both vicious and weak as it was absorbed into Barbara�s skin long moments later as the redhead continued to stroke her hair. An unintelligible chocked sound coming out of her throat a second later as she hugged Barbara to her tightly before hissing, "Fuck her."

"Helena," Barbara said feeling the brunette tense and then begin to move. She knew that learning what she had learned the night before had been crushing for Helena. Because while the brunette had barely tolerated her therapy sessions at first, and had petulantly tried to avoid and sabotage them in whatever way she could, over the months Dr. Quinzel had managed to actually make progress with her. Had managed to form an actual relationship with Helena, one that Barbara could tell had come to mean a great deal to her though Helena would never really say more about the sessions than �it was fine� or �she�s fine�. Helena had begun to actually let the doctor counsel her, had achieved a level of intimacy with her that Barbara believed was almost equivalent to, though obviously different from, what Helena had with her and with her mother. "Helena don�t �"

"Fuck it," Helena declared again lifting herself off of Barbara into a standing position, her hand flinging out and waving around the room savagely. "Just fuck it," she continued her voice low and miserable as she ran a hand through her hair.

She started for the door.

"Helena! Don�t go!" Barbara called pushing herself into an upright position, cursing her inability to jump up after the woman, to go to her and hold her and make her stay. "Helena," she called again, resorting somewhat bitterly to the only option available to her. However, the sound of the loft door closing was what greeted her and she knew the brunette was gone.

She sat staring at the door a deep sigh raking her body before she screwed her eyes shut and lifted one of her hands to rub at her temple.

=============================================

Part 19

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The next day �

 

Barbara adjusted her scarf as the cold New Gotham air bitterly caressed her skin as she made her way down the abused, but mercifully cleared of snow, pathway. Normally it would�ve been the last place she�d be on her lunch break, but there was something there that she didn�t want to leave behind.

She�d only been to the place a few times, but she knew how to find it without a problem. That photographic memory of hers coming in handy every now and again. It wasn�t that she was filled with superstitious anxiousness or anything of the sort; she just tended to feel like she was intruding.

She stopped as she spotted what she had been looking for. A dark figure with her head bowed sitting in the snow in front of a large gray tombstone.

She started to move forward, towards the reunion scene, but stopped almost as soon as her fingers touched the navigational buttons. At the edge of the cleared pathway where she could make out some soggy and muddy grass before it disappeared into a mountain of snow, the snow that had formerly been covering the pathway had been thrown onto the grass.

She looked back over at Helena�s hunched figure.

She couldn�t get over to her.

She sat still suddenly overcome with a rage and sadness that she couldn�t express, painfully aware of the fact that she was trapped by her own body, held prisoner by it in such a way that she couldn�t even express her fury at the situation properly.

Barbara felt a hand on her shoulder and blinked looking up to see Helena�s deep blue eyes peering down at her tenderly.

"Barbara," Helena said softly, her hand drifting to the top of Barbara�s jacket and dipping inside to pull the redhead�s scarf up and more fully in front of her neck. Barbara�s neck had always been most susceptible to the cold.

"Helena," Barbara replied softly looking down watching the brunette�s hand.

"I�ll walk you back to school," Helena said pulling her hand away from Barbara�s jacket returning her eyes to the redhead�s.

Barbara nodded.

Helena came to a stop a few meters in front of main doors leading into New Gotham High.

"I miss the way the world looked when she was in it," the brunette said softly, her head falling down to contemplate her shoes.

Barbara looked up at her. She missed the way the world looked from 5 feet, 8 inches up. "I know," was what she said however, her voice soft and full of melancholy.

"Why do things have to be so fucked up?" Helena asked her voice and expression intensely vulnerable as she turned her eyes toward Barbara�s.

Barbara was silent for a moment and then shrugged before saying, "That�s just things I guess." It was the best answer she could come up with just then.

Helena looked up at the sky before moving to stand in front of Barbara, looking down at her.

It had started to snow.

She stood in front of the redhead staring at her as snow fell all around them and in between their bodies.

She held out her hand in front of her, her fingers splayed. Barbara reached out when she did this meeting her hand and intertwined her own fingers with Helena�s, connecting them.

They stayed that way for a moment, snow still falling around them but no longer in between.

"I�ll see you later," Helena said releasing Barbara�s hand before taking a step back and to the side, long legs beginning to stride past Barbara.

Barbara stayed put for a moment, her eyes focused forward on the door to the school building as Helena�s steps faded behind her, and then she started towards the building inhaling deeply as a small smile briefly touched her features.

Helena jammed her hands in her pockets her head facing down as she turned the corner exiting the school grounds, though she came to a stop just outside the school gates. She looked forward for a moment with unseeing eyes and then tilted her head up towards the sky and stuck her tongue out feeling a few cold flakes of snow land and melt on its surface.

She laughed not sure if she was actually amused or not and continued down the street.

================================================

Part 20

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"It�s almost Christmas," Helena commented standing by the large window in the clock tower, looking out over the snow-covered vista of the city. It looked like a scene out of a snow globe, or a fairy tale, surreal and beautiful, almost so picturesque that it could hurt your heart.

White and still.

Calm and lovely.

She clamped her eyes shut.

It was a lie, a pretty lie. Not unreal in it�s reality, but simply unreal.

Since getting back to the clock tower from school, Barbara hadn�t stopped intercepting police calls and transmissions. Somewhere out there, beyond her view, the city was still crazy and running rampant with strife.

The police had it under control for the moment, but soon she�d be need just like always, called into the seemingly endless night. Which was fine by her. She liked the dark. It was the place where she felt most comfortable outside of the circle of Barbara�s arms. Yes, she was quite familiar with the night. Had been in it in rain and snow. Had leapt and swung and run under its cover to the city�s every border. Had sat up high and felt it seep into her, whispering sweet nothings in her ear. Had felt it wrap its tendrils around her comforting her in the early morning when she would let no other close. There was truth in the night and she knew it. Most people couldn�t see it for the dark, but she knew that it was in the dark itself that the truth laid.

Quinzel had once said, quirking an eyebrow at her brown leather pants and tasseled belt, that she was �an angel-headed hipster burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night�. Ginsberg�s words falling easily from the woman�s perfectly painted red lips and landing gracefully on Helena�s heart, the impact rippling through her. She hadn�t been able to tell the doctor exactly what it was that she was doing out there in the dark for so long so frequently, why she stalked the streets at night and inhaled deeply, but that hadn�t mattered much. The woman had seemed to know what she was talking about when she said the night was true, that when she walked it she walked in beauty.

Quinzel just knew. She always seemed to know.

Helena stepped back from the window suddenly, her eyes opening and narrowing as she watched the sun retreat from the sky, looking upon the encroaching darkness with suspicion and regret.

Quinzel was crazy. And she was starting to dread the night.

"Another week now," Barbara replied looking away from her monitor over to Helena�s dark figure standing in front of the window, watching her closely. She could practically feel the tension and confusion churning inside of the brunette. Helena was calmer, and more accessible than in the days before, but she was still withdrawn, was still being eaten up by the recent blows her life had dealt her.

"I haven�t done any shopping," Helena responded slowly turning around meeting Barbara�s gaze. "We�re going to have to hurry up and save the city, so I can finish before the 24th. I hate last minute shoppers."

"I hate it when you hate things," Barbara replied reaching up to remove her glasses before looking up, watching as Helena crossed over towards her stopping just in front of her.

"You�re sweet," Helena responded lightly leaning down to brush her lips against Barbara�s, nipping at the redhead�s bottom lip playfully before pulling back. "You say nice things too," she continued smirking at Barbara who merely grinned at her and then backed up slightly, replacing her glasses as she went.

"Let�s see what we can do about getting you on schedule for Christmas," she said turning towards the nearest monitor, her voice turning serious.

"What�ve you got?" Helena asked coming up behind her, hovering around the back of Barbara�s chair for a moment wiggling and clenching her fingers anxiously before finally resting them on the redhead�s shoulder finally stilling them.

"Patient files, on-line clothing catalogues, mp3�s, month old calendars � nothing out of the ordinary," Barbara replied waving absently at the screen. "At least on the surface," she continued feeling Helena�s hands tighten on her shoulder, relaxing when she began to speak once again. "She�s got an impressively vicious and therefore utterly suspicious firewall protecting her system. I was able to punch some holes in it, but only enough to get glimpses at what lay behind it. Very interesting glimpses, she�s � we need to get into that computer system," Barbara went on leaning back.

"Just say it," Helena muttered feeling Barbara watching her and turning her head slightly to the side as if investigating another part of the loft with her eyes. She knew that look. Barbara was trying to decide how to tackle a topic she knew would upset or irritate her in some way.

"To get in, we need to attach this," Barbara said, reaching over to the desk and picking a thin piece of material that looked almost like a clear band-aid, but had a small, micro-technological cluster in the center of the sticky part, "to the CPU of her desktop."

"I�ll do it," Helena said knowing that Barbara was going to launch into an, �there�s a hard way and an easy way� speech. That may have been true enough, but they both knew that there was only one way that it was ever going to play out. "I have an appointment with her tonight."

Barbara looked up at her sharply, her eyebrow quirking. "That�s unusual isn�t it?"

Helena shrugged drawing her hands off of Barbara�s shoulder stepping back and moving to the side to lean up against the desk. "Yeah," she finally muttered her eyes drifting around the loft. "She says I communicate better at night. When I�m being uncooperative during our regular appoints she sometimes has me come in after hours."

"Are you uncooperative a lot?" Barbara asked her voice slightly teasing though in her mind she was frowning, not sure that she liked the revelation. From what she�d been able to gather about Quinzel�s practice from the unprotected files on her computer, she ran her business almost like a hobby, only taking on a handful of clients and rarely starting her day before 11am and ending it before 4pm. She didn�t strike Barbara as someone who was married to the job and thus prone to keeping long and strange hours. She didn�t like the fact that the woman seemed to be making an exception for Helena. She didn�t like that Helena inspired her to make an exception.

"Hi, I�m Helena nice to meet you," Helena responded sarcastically reaching out her hand and grasping Barbara�s shaking it vigorously.

"Right," Barbara replied as Helena lowered her hand, the brunette�s gaze on her feet. "I�d like you to keep comms on," she continued, her voice gentle knowing that it wasn�t something Helena was at all likely to want.

Helena sighed deeply, running at hand through her hair as she continued her contemplation of her feet. Finally, after long moments of silence she turned her face up to look at Barbara who was watching her unobtrusively, her face open and curious as she waited patiently for Helena to give her answer. "Yeah, alright," she finally breathed out, disquieted by the idea of Barbara listening in on whatever theory Quinzel might toss out because they usually got some kind of answer out of her that she hadn�t even been aware was in her, but also unsettled by the idea that she was disquieted by idea that she didn�t want Barbara to hear any unexpected declarations.

"What time�s your appointment?" Barbara asked drawing Helena out of her thoughts causing the brunette to blink at her for a moment before focusing.

"Why? Do you want to comfort me?" Helena asked a slow, easy grin starting to spread across her features as she ran her eyes over Barbara.

"Are you saying you�ve got some free time?" Barbara asked meeting Helena�s gaze before biting her bottom lip naughtily.

"No, that�s what I was insinuating," Helena replied sliding closer to Barbara, leaning forward to brace her hands on the arms of Barbara�s chair. "Still, it�s very, very true," she went on, her words mumbled against Barbara�s lips as she slowly the kissed the redhead, deepening the kiss as Barbara opened her mouth to her and tangled her hand in Helena�s hair.

"Good," Barbara breathed out slowly, pulling Helena�s head away from her lips, a teasing sort of smile spreading across her face. "Dinah needs a pick up from the library. Also you�ll need to drop Gabby off at home," she said lowering her hand from Helena�s hair. "If you hurry you�ll only be ten minutes late," she continued licking her lips. "She probably won�t even yell at you. Well� maybe only for a few minutes."

"You�re joking," Helena said, her voice huskier than usual as she stared at the woman in front of her.

"�Fraid not," Barbara replied, her expression approaching something that resembled regret.

"And even if I leave now I�ll be late?" Helena asked peering into Barbara�s face, still bent over her.

Barbara nodded solemnly.

"A couple more minutes won�t make a difference then," Helena replied grinning wolfishly at the redhead, her hands quickly dropping to slide under the redhead�s ass lifting her into her arms easily. "This won�t take long," she continued, kissing Barbara�s neck as she crossed over to the couch where she rested Barbara, her hands immediately beginning to work the buttons of the redhead�s pants.

"That�s a selling point?" Barbara asked as Helena unceremoniously yanked her pants down and off, her hands moving to Barbara�s thighs spreading them apart before she leaned forward and placed a soft, almost chaste kiss on the silky fabric of Barbara�s underwear, her right hand simultaneously slipping below the waistband of her own pants.

"It is tonight," Helena mumbled into Barbara�s pelvis.

Continue to Chapters 21-End

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