Title: The Birds and the Beautiful
Author: ocean gazer: quietoceangazer@yahoo.com
Date: 27 April 2003
Category: humor, soap opera parody (with a bit of romance novel parody thrown in) <g>.
Rating: PG � nothing that you wouldn�t see on daytime tv.
Content Warning: While there�s nothing at all explicit in this story, there is a reference to a gay male relationship, a couple of het relationships, sex toys, dental dams, dildos, and other such offensive topics. DO NOT READ THIS STORY IF THE MERE MENTION OF SUCH THINGS OFFENDS YOU. DO NOT READ THIS STORY IF YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR. DO NOT READ THIS STORY IF YOU THINK SOAP OPERAS ARE THE BEST THINGS ON TELEVISION OR IF YOU THINK HARLEQUIN ROMANCES ARE THE EPITOME OF LITERARY EXCELLENCE. You�ve been duly warned, so no use bitching about it later <g>.
Pairing: Barbara/Helena (with a mention of Helena/Jesse, Barbara/Wade, Jesse/Sandy, and Wade/Gibson � hey, it�s a soap opera � there have to be multiple relationships <g>).
Summary: The Birds leading a soap opera life.
Archive: Dear God, I don�t think this is remotely worth archiving. Hell, it wasn�t even worth having beta�ed.
Disclaimers: We all know I don�t own them. The WB, Tollin/Robbins, DC Comics, and other fine folks have that pleasure. I�m not making any money off this demented work of fiction (and aren�t we all grateful for that <g>).
Notes: This is probably the worst piece of fanfic I�ve ever written (yeah, I know, great recommendation there, but I�m being honest) � but someone on-list mentioned BoP and soap operas � and they planted an evil little seed in my head. That, combined with recent on-list conversations, sparked this story. Hope that you at least get a few laughs out of it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Birds and the Beautiful
by ocean gazer

"My darling, I love you and I must have you."

Barbara nearly swooned as the words fell like glistening jewels from Helena�s tongue. So long � she�d waited so long for such an undying declaration of love from the woman who had stolen her heart so many years before.

"But Helena, my love, we can�t be together. Even though I�ve been divorced for two years, I have to think about Wade � about Dinah. You know how much our family means to her. And you�re still married to Reese � the divorce won�t be final for another two days." She sighed dramatically, one hand going to her perfectly groomed head and fluttering against her forehead. "Alas, our love will have to wait."

Helena practically growled with lust as she leaned over Barbara�s wheelchair. Her hands lightly stroked the lace trim on the sexy � but completely chaste and virginal � nightgown worn by her would-be lover. "But my darling, Reese has been sleeping with Sandy for months now. Our marriage is simply a formality. And you told me yourself that Wade hasn�t loved you for years, not since he realized he�s gay and found love in Gibson�s arms. You know as well as I do that he won�t mind if you find some happiness yourself."

Barbara lightly brushed Helena�s striking brunette bangs from off her forehead. The gesture was intimate without crossing the line into being something more than friendly. Ah, how she wished she could just fall into those blue eyes that were so strong and warm. But she had responsibilities to think about � a foster daughter to consider.

Lightly, Barbara pulled away from Helena�s hands and she wheeled her chair so that her back was to the other woman. "But what about �" She broke off as a faint sob choked her voice. "What about Dinah? What will she think if I abandon our family? Will she � hate me?"

Helena immediately shifted from lustful pursuer to comforting friend. She knelt beside Barbara, her fingers clasping the other woman�s well-manicured hands, mindful to not cut herself on the sparking diamond rings that adorned Barbara�s slender fingers. "My love, you know Dinah will never hate you. How could she hate you? You gave up everything for her � you gave up being Oracle and married Wade so that she could have the normal life she wanted."

Barbara sighed, leaning down to lightly kiss her friend�s cheek in a friendly manner that could not possibly be misconstrued by anyone who might happen to see it. "She hated being a crime fighter, once she figured out it was more than just cool costumes and people showering her with attention." Her voice lowered half an octave, a slight quiver playing under her words, the tone appropriately dark and melodramatic. "I had to give it up � I made a pledge to her to be her foster mother, and I had to do what was best for her."

Helena stood, crossing the room to lean against the fireplace mantle, her eyes admiring the crystal and silver knick-knacks that adorned it. Her tone was full of awe and wonder at the magnificent woman in the room with her. "You�ve been wonderful for her, Barbara, you really have. But she�s an adult in her own right � she�s almost out of college and you know she plans to move back to Opal with Gabby and be a school teacher. It�s time that you stopped being so self-sacrificing and let yourself be happy. You deserve so many wonderful things � things that have been denied you because you�re so busy taking care of those around you."

Barbara felt her heart melt at the words and she wheeled over to Helena. The woman was truly striking, her expensive tailored clothes and her elegant jewelry only adding to her allure. Barbara grabbed Helena�s hand in her own. "You�re right of course, my dear. I�ve been so horrible to you � pushing you away because I felt responsible for my family. You�ve needed me while Jesse was philandering, and I�ve let you down because I was so scared of how much I love you. Can you ever possibly forgive me?"

Helena leaned down and pressed her lips to Barbara�s, giving her a sweet, close-mouthed kiss that lasted an entire ten seconds. "Of course I forgive you. You are my everything. I�m only happy that you think I�m worthy of your love."

Barbara smiled up at the woman who had just become her lover. The kiss had changed everything � it had been a promise between them of love and fidelity. It had shown them both that this was now a serious relationship and that they were committed to each other until death do us part.

Helena smiled down at the woman who was now her lover. She�d waited so long for this � to finally have Barbara all to herself. They�d had a one-night stand years ago and she�d never stopped thinking about it. Not during her marriage to Jesse (which she�d agreed to only because Barbara had married Wade for Dinah�s sake) � not during all the other one-night stands she�d had with practically everyone in New Gotham. It didn�t matter how many people she�d slept with � she�d only wanted Barbara.

Helena sighed dramatically and kissed her lover�s forehead. "I wish I could stay, my love, but I have to get back to work. And I think you need your sleep. But I�ll be back tomorrow and we can talk about things � whose house we�re going to live in � how we�re going to tell Dinah." She saw the faint pout on her lover�s face and said softly. "I know you�re worried about how everything will work out, but it will all be fine. Nothing will ever hurt you again, now that we�re together. I promise."

Barbara nodded and blew a kiss to her lover. "I love you, Helena. Good night, my sweet. And I�ll see you tomorrow."

******

Outside in the bushes conveniently located right in front of the big picture window to provide an ample hiding place for a criminal, a figure lurked, watching the women with barely concealed interest. A voice, dry like autumn leaves, cackled in the wind, "Ah Helena, don�t you know that promises are made to be broken?"

******

Dinah bounced in the door, smiling to herself at the thought of being able to surprise her foster mother. All of her classes for the rest of the week had been cancelled and she�d decided to drive home for the weekend. She knew, of course, that her foster father wouldn�t be there, since he�d abandoned them and moved in with another man. But she wanted to spend some time with Barbara, to spend as much time as she could being petted and spoiled before she moved back to the town in which she�d been raised. It hadn�t exactly been her idea to go back to the joys of small town life, but she and her best friend had both gotten jobs there, so it wouldn�t be too bad.

She started to call out and tell her foster mom that she was home, but decided to further surprise her. She walked through the opulent house, smiling at the displays of luxury � copies of famous paintings on the walls, gold doorknobs, immaculately maintained furniture. And then she stopped short when she walked through the living room archway and saw her foster mother. Or more accurately, saw her foster mother holding Helena�s hand and gazing up at her adoringly.

"What are you doing?"

Barbara practically jumped in surprise and abruptly dropped Helena�s hand as she recognized her daughter�s voice. She wheeled closer to the young woman. "Honey, let me explain."

Dinah walked away from her mother, staring at her in open-mouthed disgust. "What�s going on here? First dad turns gay and now you. Did some super-villain poison the water supply or something while I was gone to college? God � this is gross."

Helena growled under her breath, wishing she hadn�t given up her meta-human abilities when Barbara had stopped being Oracle. She really wanted to be able to kick the girl�s butt for being so mean and insensitive to Barbara. The spoiled brat didn�t even seem to realize just what Barbara had given up for her. But since she didn�t have super-human strength anymore (due to drinking a magic potion), she couldn�t do more than simply say in her angriest voice, "You have no right to talk to her that way. Barbara�s happy with me and she deserves to be happy."

Barbara felt tears in her eyes as she looked across the room at Dinah, who had her arms crossed in front of her chest in a very defensive gesture. "Honey, I love you very much and would never want to hurt you. But you�re almost out on your own and your father moved out. I just want to be happy too. And Helena makes me very happy. We�re in love � and we want to be together � to make love and laugh and watch old movies � to do the things that couples do."

Dinah couldn�t believe her ears. Her foster mother. Talking like she had hormones and a sex drive or something. The mere thought was laughable � parents aren�t supposed to have sex. Especially not with former prot�g�es or something. "God, you�re so clueless, mom. I bet you don�t even know the first thing about safe sex with a woman." Drawing on the gross stuff she�d learned in high school health class, Dinah continued, "You probably don�t even have the slightest idea how to use a dental dam � and I�ll bet you�ve never ever heard of dildos � or vibrators. And you know as well as I do that Helena has a very � dark side. What are you going to do if she wants to use handcuffs or clamps or other sex toys? How can you possibly be happy with someone � like her? You�re so different � so opposite � so � not � not �" Words simply failed her. There was nothing she could think to say that would describe just how gross the mere concept was, though she conveniently forgot that she was the one whose mind had gone into the gutter.

Helena growled again at the crimson blush that was spreading across her lover�s face. She knew Barbara was as sweet and pure as the driven snow and she knew that such topics deeply embarrassed her. She was surprised that Dinah was being so cruel and so blunt � but then again, the girl had grown up quite lot at college. Gone was the innocent, cute little Dinah she used to know.

Moving quickly, Helena stood behind Barbara, her hands on her lover�s shoulders in a gesture of support. Her voice was as stern as she could make it, as if she could assume the mantle of "Father" now that she was a part of Dinah�s family. "Being in love is a lot more than just having sex, Dinah. One of these days, you�ll learn that too."

Barbara forced herself to look up into her daughter�s angry eyes. She knew the explicit questions weren�t really what was going on at all � it was just Dinah�s way of expressing her unhappiness. She did her best to play the role of the supportive and endlessly understanding, yet martyred mother figure. "Dinah, honey, why can�t you let me be happy? I�ve given up so many things to give you the life you�d always wanted. I�ve given you everything you�ve ever dreamed of. Now it�s my turn to do something for me."

Dinah slammed her fist down on the table, not wanting to hear any of it. God, it wasn�t fair. Everything was supposed to be about her � and now both her foster parents were acting like they had real lives of their own. "I�ll never accept this. Do you hear me? Never." She stomped over to the door and threw it open. "I don�t want my family broken apart any more � and I�m not ever coming back as long as you�re with Helena. Do you hear me? NEVER!!!!!"

Barbara started to cry in distress as her daughter stormed out of the house, though she was careful not to ruin any of her carefully applied make-up. Helena pressed a kiss to the top of red hair, careful not to mess up any of the carefully groomed strands. "It�ll be ok, Barbara. I�ll go talk to her."

Barbara simply nodded as her lover went out the door. So preoccupied was she in her grief, that she didn�t hear the latch of the front window being unlocked, didn�t hear the squeak of the hinges as the window swung open, and didn�t notice the black-clad figure slipping through the open space, landing on the back of the couch, tumbling onto the cushions, and then walking towards her.

******

Moments later, Helena came walking back into the house. "I�m sorry, darling," she said as she entered the living room. "She disappeared before I could catch up to her. I�m sorry."

Suddenly, she noticed that Barbara�s wheelchair was in the room, but Barbara wasn�t. Suddenly panicked, she raced to the chair, careful not to move too fast and risk a broken ankle from her high heels. There was dark liquid on the back of the chair � and it was warm to her touch. She smeared it around thoughtfully on her fingers, proving to herself that it was indeed blood. Then she saw the note, written in black crayon and attached to the seat of the wheelchair with a pocketknife.

"If you want to keep her alive, come to the docks alone tomorrow at high noon. You and I have a score to settle. If I see anyone following you, she�s dead. Signed, the mysterious and anonymous stalker from your past."

******

Barbara groaned as she opened her eyes. Oohh � what had happened? Her head hurt and she carefully reached up and felt the source of the pain. She grimaced expressively as her fingers came away sticky with her own blood. Great, she�d probably just ruined the collar of her very expensive blouse. Blood was very hard to get out of the silk fabric. Blinking rapidly, she focused in on her surroundings. She was lying on a dirty floor in what looked like an abandoned warehouse. Or should that be where-house? She giggled softly at her own horrific joke, trying to fight off her panic at not having any idea where she was or who had taken her.

Right on cue, a figure entered the room. Barbara couldn�t even tell if it was a man or a woman. The figure was dressed all in black and had on a face-concealing mask. Barbara couldn�t hide her fear as the figure turned to her and said in a sickly sweet voice, "Ah, the prisoner finally is awake."

Barbara tried to push herself into a sitting position, but was too weak from the blow on the head to manage it. All she could manage was a series of clich�d questions and statements. "Who are you? Why did you kidnap me? You�ll never get away with this."

There was a chilling laugh from the figure. "Oh, but I already have gotten away with it. And soon, my nefarious plan will succeed. Your dear, sweet lover will follow the instructions in my note, and when she shows up to try and save you, I�ll take my long-waited revenge on her and kill her."

"No!" Barbara wailed, suddenly wishing she hadn�t given up life as Oracle and had kept in shape with her fighting skills. She was completely helpless in the face of this villain. "Please, don�t hurt her. Do anything you want to me, just leave her alone."

The figure walked close and caressed Barbara�s face in the type of suggestive gesture seen mainly in late night, woman-behind-bars-with-a-sadistic-lesbian-guard movies. "How noble of you. But you see, my precious little captive, I want to hurt her. She hurt me a long time ago, and I�ve been dreaming of the day when I could make her pay for that. Still � I do hate to turn down such a noble gesture."

Raising an arm, the black clad figure began to rain blows down on the defenseless Barbara.

******

The moon was high in the night sky when Dinah finally stopped sulking and returned to her house. She had sorta meant everything she said, only not really. She did like Helena and she did want her mom to be happy. She just didn�t really like the idea of her life turning into something that could be the subject of a sappy, Hallmark after-school special titled "Dinah Has Two Mothers AND Two Fathers." But, then again, they weren�t her real parents after all and they hadn�t officially adopted her, so now that she was an adult, she could start acting like they were her friends instead of her guardians.

Armed with that thought, she stepped into the living room, planning to apologize with a simple, "I�m sorry," so that everything could go back to normal right away.

She had expected to see her mom � Barbara � sitting in front of the window crying. She hadn�t expected to see Helena squatting next to her empty wheelchair crying. "What happened? Where�s my mom?"

Helena swung her head up in surprise at hearing Dinah�s voice. She hastily wiped her tears off on her sleeve, careful to not smear her make-up as she did so. "Dinah. I didn�t expect to see you here."

Dinah walked over and squatted down next to the brunette. "I was stupid. It shouldn�t matter who mom is in love with as long as she�s happy." Pausing for just a second so that the subject change wouldn�t sound too weird, she asked again, "What happened? You and � Barbara have a fight?"

A sob made its way out of Helena�s throat, though she tried very carefully to contain the rest of her tears. She had to be strong, for Barbara�s sake. For Dinah�s sake. Not to mention for her own sake. "She�s been kidnapped. Someone from our past wants revenge and they took Barbara to get to me."

Dinah gasped loudly, the noise made up of equal parts horror and annoyance. The horror, of course, was due to the idea of Barbara being kidnapped by some nefarious criminal. The annoyance was that their former lives as crime fighters kept coming back to haunt them. It�d been six years since they all gave up being the Birds of Prey and had come to the suburbs of New Gotham to build normal lives. And yet the past kept coming back, never leaving them alone. It just wasn�t fair. God, why did everything have to happen to her? All she�d ever wanted was to be normal.

Helena patted Dinah on the arm. "They want me to meet them tomorrow at noon." She straightened her back and took a deep breath, her tone full of promise and bravado. "You need not worry. Everything will be fine. I�ll get her back safely if it�s the last thing I ever do. I swear to you by the light of the full moon � I will sacrifice myself before I allow harm to come to her."

Dinah gave a suitably horrified gasp at the comments, her eyes shining with sudden adoration for the brave woman who would risk her very life in such a fashion. Even if she didn�t really want that brave, strong woman to be dating her foster mother. Then, the moment passed and her common sense at last decided to rear its head. "But you can�t walk into a trap like that. You have to call the police � you just have to! Certainly Jesse still has connections on the force, even though he gave up being a cop when you got married."

Helena sighed dramatically. "I can�t ask him, Dinah. We�re not exactly on the best of terms, what with him sleeping with my former best friend who is a reformed evil superhero."

Dinah clutched desperately at Helena�s arm, her fear getting the better of her. Her tone quavered just enough to show how deeply the turn of events was affecting her, but not enough to actually leave her speechless. "But surely he�d help you � for Barbara�s sake."

Helena jerked away from the blonde, suddenly standing up and walking over to the window. "I can�t take the risk. If I�m followed, the person threatened to kill Barbara. I won�t do anything to play games with her life. Now I need you to promise that you�ll stay here and not follow me."

Dinah crossed her fingers before saying solemnly, "I promise."

"Thank you," said Helena as she walked unceremoniously out the door. "Be strong, Dinah. Do not be afraid. I will save her."

******

In an unnamed warehouse on the docks, Barbara lay unconscious. Her face was artistically bruised from the beating she�d received, and her arms and torso featured artistic cuts from a knife blade. Her clothes were artistically torn in a way to reveal a certain amount of her mutilated skin, but nothing provocative enough to show any particularly private parts of her body. She groaned in her sleep as infection settled into her injuries and a fever began to ravage her body.

******

In the same unnamed warehouse on the dock, the black clad figure sat sharpening a knife. Not because it was dull, but simply as a way of passing the time. It was so boring to have to wait to kill Helena.

******

In an unnamed playground that served as a city park, Helena sat in a swing, her feet dangling on the ground. She knew she should have stayed at Barbara�s house to comfort Dinah, but she needed to be alone. Things were happening too quickly, as they always seemed to, but that wasn�t why she needed time alone. She didn�t need to process anything � things were what they were and she didn�t need to analyze them. Whatever script life wrote for her, she went with it and didn�t ask questions. She just didn�t want to spend what might be the last night of her life cooped up in a house with her lover�s ungrateful daughter.

******

In an unnamed alleyway in the bad part of town, Dinah stood waiting for Reese to show up, having decided � of course � to completely disregard everything Helena had said. She had no intention of letting Helena walk into a trap without backup. Especially since following the instructions of the kidnapper would still most likely lead to Barbara�s death. Or at least that�s what always seemed to happen in the movies.

******

At exactly high noon, Helena stood on the docks, waiting for her mysterious date. She scanned her surroundings constantly, not wanting to be caught off guard. She just forgot about occasionally looking up. The blow to the top of her head caught her completely by surprise.

******

"Ah, so my little friend is starting to wake up."

Since Helena was starting to regain consciousness, gritting her ultra-white, professionally shined teeth against the stab of pain in her skull, she assumed the sickly sweet voice was talking about her. She didn�t bother to answer, however, being far too preoccupied with the more mundane matter of not throwing up all over her expensive dress suit. While she had plenty of money, dry cleaning was far too expensive to be taken lightly.

Once she�d conquered the nausea, she blinked her eyes open, annoyed to find that her hands were firmly secured behind her back with a thick rope. Lovely, now she was going to have rope burns on her wrists � which would make it impossible for her to wear either her Rolex or her diamond bracelet for at least a week. She�d have to totally rethink her outfit and accessories for the charity dinner on Wednesday. Assuming of course that she didn�t get herself killed before then, whereupon such minor details would be somewhat irrelevant.

She focused right in on the black clad figure, which wasn�t hard to do since the person was standing directly in her line of vision. Her first question was the somewhat clich�d, "Who are you?" followed by the equally clich�d, "What do you want from me?" followed by the only slightly less clich�d, "If you hurt Barbara, you�re going to regret the day you were born."

In answer to the first question, the figure stripped off her black mask, revealing the cute but insane features of one Harly Quin � psychotic psychiatrist extraordinaire.

In answer to the second question, Harly laughed manically and said sweetly, "I want to kill you for foiling all my plans to take over New Gotham."

In answer to the third, well, statement, Harly�s face grew sincere and serious as she said, "Honey, I already regret the day I was born. Life truly has not been fair to me." With that, she stepped aside, allowing Helena a clear glimpse of her lover, who was lying directly across from her.

Helena couldn�t restrain a horrified and melodramatic gasp at the scene that greeted her eyes. Barbara�s beaten body was tied to a table, with a giant cleaver hanging directly over her throat. Two ropes held up the cleaver, and each rope had a candle positioned directly underneath it. Helena could see that her lover was only semi-conscious at best and there were feverish spots of color in her cheeks, adding a garish contrast to both her make-up and her bruises.

"Leave her alone, Quin. It�s me you want revenge on!" shouted Helena, feeling like she was trapped in a nightmare.

Harly laughed, a high-pitched giggle favored by female megalomaniacs. "Ah, but my dear, she asked for it. I believe her exact words were, "Do anything you want to me, just leave her alone." She laughed again. "Unfortunately, I only have selective hearing and I tend to only hear the first half of what anyone says to me."

Helena watched in horror as Quin took out a matchbox and began to walk over to where Barbara lay. She fought to find a diversion, something to distract the psycho woman�s attention from her lover. "Why now, Quin?" she asked, being somewhat at a loss for how to carry on a conversation with the woman bent on killing them both. "Why are you doing this after all this time?"

She�d expected that, just like in the movies and on television, Quin would turn to her and earnestly explain her reasons and her plans in excruciating detail, allowing for enough time for some miracle to save them. Unfortunately, Quin apparently hadn�t gotten a copy of that particular script.

Harly lit the candlewicks, so that the flames began to lick at the ropes holding the cleaver so menacingly over Barbara�s throat. Then she walked over to stand in front of Helena and explained simply, "This is the first chance I�ve had. I only escaped from jail last week. And now, you�re going to watch her die, and then I�m going to kill you."

That was a conversation stopper if Helena had ever heard one, and she struggled fiercely against her bonds, no longer caring if she injured her wrists in the process. She wished fervently that she�d never tried to have a normal life, that she�d never given up her meta-human powers, that Barbara had never given into Dinah�s demands to give up crime fighting. Unfortunately, all her wishes went unanswered.

She watched in agony as the strands of the ropes began to unravel. Tears streamed down her face at the sight of her lover lying so helpless. The only consolation she could find was that Barbara was unconscious and would not feel the fatal blade slicing into her delicate flesh. What a horrible, unfair, detestable turn of fate.

Helena grimaced as another strand unraveled and she turned furious eyes on Quin, whose face was lit up like a child on Christmas morning. She wanted to say something hurtful or something to appeal to Quin�s better nature. But she knew insults would be taken as a compliment, and her appeals would not only fall on deaf ears, but would actually give Quin a type of sadistic pleasure in being able to hurt her. So she bit her lip, tasting lipstick, and remained silent.

And then, Helena heard the telltale metallic click of a gun being cocked. And then she heard her soon-to-be ex-husband�s voice saying, "Freeze!"

She looked up and saw a group of police officers moving into the warehouse, guns drawn and pointed right at Harly Quin. The psychotic former psychiatrist looked completely forlorn and defeated, muttering, "This wasn�t supposed to happen. How did my ingenious plan get foiled? I planned everything to the last detail. I didn�t make any mistakes. Why do these things always happen to me? It�s not fair!"

Cops surrounded her, none of whom seemed to have the slightest interest in answering her rhetorical questions.

Helena�s relief at the very timely rescue quickly turned to horror as she glanced over to see that the cleaver above Barbara was literally hanging on by one thread. "Jesse!!" she screamed, her voice echoing crazily off the cavernous walls. "Barbara�s in danger!!"

Before he could move, the last strand of rope burned through � and the deadly blade headed straight down. Helena screamed again. And then, without warning, the blade stopped. In mid-air. For no apparent reason. And then, the cleaver gently drifted down to the ground beside the table.

Helena�s brain, momentarily stalled because she�d rather forgotten to breathe during that moment of terror, suddenly kicked into gear. "Dinah?" she asked, just as the person in question walked up to her.

Dinah smiled at Helena as she began untying the ropes. "Yep, it was me," she confirmed.

"But how? I mean, I thought you gave up your meta powers at the same time I did because you wanted a normal life." Helena was genuinely confused. She�d never once suspected that the younger woman retained any of her mental gifts.

"I lied," Dinah explained simply, undoing the last knot of Helena�s bonds. "I knew you and Barbara wouldn�t be able to lead normal lives if you still had your meta powers, but I knew I could because it was something I wanted so badly."

Helena�s hand shot out and grasped the blonde by the throat, angry beyond words. She was ready to choke the ungrateful little wretch � or at the very least get into a really nasty catfight with hair pulling, name calling, and everything. "You lied? You deceitful, spoiled child. Barbara gave up everything for you and I did the same because without Oracle, there was no point in me staying a meta-human crime fighter. We gave up everything for you and you lied to us?"

Suddenly, Helena felt her hand being pried away from Dinah�s throat. She looked up, still boiling with anger, and saw Jesse�s concerned face. "Don�t do this, Helena," he said softly.

Helena tried to shake herself free from his grasp, but he was stronger than she was. Her voice came out as an anguished sob. "Don�t make excuses for her, Jesse. You know what this means. You know what we sacrificed."

And then a soft, pain-tinged voice lilted into the air. "Don�t do it, Helena. It won�t change anything."

Helena�s anger was forgotten at the sound of Barbara�s voice. She pulled free of Jesse�s grip and ran to her lover�s side, gently releasing her from her bonds, whispering her name over and over.

Helena pulled Barbara from the table and onto the floor. She cradled her lover�s head gently in her lap, stroking her hair. "I thought I�d lost you forever, Barbara. I don�t think I can live without you."

Barbara snuggled into Helena�s welcoming embrace, ignoring her own very real physical injuries in favor of having a long, emotional conversation in the middle of a group of onlookers. "I can�t live without you either, Helena. You�re the other half of my soul; you�re what makes my life worth living. I was so scared when Quin captured me � because I knew she wanted to hurt you � and I couldn�t bear the thought of you being hurt. You are everything to me � the only person I�ve ever wanted."

Helena leaned down and placed a very chaste and completely innocuous kiss on Barbara�s forehead. "I was so scared that this was the end � that you were going to die right in front of my eyes. Now that I finally have you, I can�t bear to lose you."

Jesse discreetly cleared his throat. Not because he was uncomfortable with having his soon-to-be ex-wife having this particular conversation in front of him (since he honestly didn�t care about her most intimate thoughts or about who she was going to be sleeping with), but because he was uncomfortable with the idea that they were having this particular conversation in front of people other than just him and that it might just reflect badly on his manhood to have his almost-ex-wife whispering sweet nothings to a woman.

Helena looked up and suddenly remembered that they had an audience. And then a tiny groan from Barbara reminded her of the concept of practical thinking and she said, stating the obvious rather unnecessarily, "Barbara�s pretty badly hurt. We need to get her to the hospital as soon as possible."

Jesse nodded and knelt to pick her up. "I�ll drive."

******

Three weeks later, Helena, Barbara, Dinah, and Jesse were sitting in Barbara�s living room, having coffee after dinner.

Helena sat back on the couch, her gaze focusing in on her lover. Barbara�s injuries were almost completely healed, though some of the bruises were still vaguely visible, adding a touch of the artistically tragic to her appearance.

Barbara sat on the other end of the couch, keeping an eye on all three of the other people in the room. Dinah and Jesse were both sitting in recliners, sipping their French coffee with dainty motions. "So," she said conversationally, "are you both okay with this? I mean, not only with Helena and I being together, but with us resuming our crime fighting tasks?"

Ok, so it wasn�t exactly the epitome of civilized after-dinner conversation. But, Barbara realized in a heartbeat, playing the role of rich, suburban, elegant housewife had never been her strong suit anyhow.

Jesse shrugged in his oh-so-expressive way. "I�ve got my own life now, so as long as you�re both happy, it doesn�t matter to me."

Dinah offered her own shrug, still not happy at her oh-so-normal life being yanked out from under her. "I�m sorry I was being such a baby earlier. It�s not like I�m going to be living here anyway, so it doesn�t really matter what you two do. And I guess I just want you to be happy." She didn�t sound too convinced by her own words. "And I guess if you�re really not happy living this fairy tale life " her tone made it obvious that only a moron would be unhappy with it "then I don�t have a problem with you giving it up to fight crime."

Barbara sighed. "Can�t you just be happy that we�re happy?"

Helena sighed dramatically. "Live and let live and all that jazz?"

Dinah looked up and seemed to realize for the first time that she was still acting like a spoiled brat. It wasn�t like their activities were going to affect her life anymore, so it wasn�t like she really should care what they did. And, as she thought about it, while she still wasn�t real thrilled about the whole "my foster mom is a lesbian" thing, she did want her to be happy. And she did kinda like Helena. So she took a breath and smiled her biggest smile. "I do want you to be happy. So � do whatever makes you happy."

She got up, walked over to the couch, and kissed Barbara on the cheek. "And � well � I know I don�t say this very often, but I do appreciate all the things you�ve given me." She glanced down at her watch. "Oops, I gotta go. Gabby and I are double dating and I don�t want to be late." With that, she rushed out the door.

Jesse stood, setting his coffee cup down. "I need to get going too. Sandy is expecting me back soon." He too headed for the door, then turned and regarded the women seriously. "I do want you both to be happy and God knows you were made for each other. But I�m still a little confused on the whole crime-fighting thing. I mean, I know you still have the Delphi in the Clocktower and that Wayne Industries has been playing Alfred to take care of the place. So going back to being Oracle won�t be a problem. But Helena gave up her abilities. How is she going to become Huntress?"

Barbara smiled at him, an evil glint in her eyes. "When I said six years ago that there was no antidote to the potion that took Helena�s powers away � I lied."

He couldn�t help but laugh as he walked out the door.

The moment he was gone, Helena slid across the couch next to Barbara. She settled her arm around the red head�s narrow shoulders and said breathlessly, "I do love you, Barbara. Forever and always."

Barbara leaned over and gave Helena a suggestive, yet completely chaste, kiss on the cheek. "And I love you, Helena. You�re the light of my life, the sunshine of my soul."

Helena bounced off the couch and turned to pick up her lover in her arms. She�d taken the potion to restore her meta abilities � and while the potion hadn�t quite restored her to her natural state, she had regained most of her strength.

Barbara giggled as Helena picked her up and headed towards the bedroom. In a husky voice, she whispered, "I see your super human abilities are returning."

Helena smiled down at the woman in her arms. "They are." She kissed her lover�s forehead and then whispered suggestively, "And I think maybe it�s time for me to give you a demonstration."

And with that, the scene tastefully faded to black.

The end

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