TITLE: Half Truths or Consequences
AUTHOR: Pink Rabbit Productions
UNIVERSE: The comics
DISCLAIMER: This is likely to include angst , all girl action, and
who knows what else. The characters beclong to DC comics, not me, but
heck, somebody needs to let 'em play now and then.
Two Days Later
Sleek, Monica Jeffries decided as she watched the lean figure
stalk---she tested the word mentally and decided it was the only one
that fit curvaceous figure moving easily through the confines of the
public library, her body graceful, expression intense. Hard to miss
stuff even if Monica's preference hadn't run to women. The newcomer was
... well, she was definitely something and not like the normal clientele
of the Gotham Public Library at all. The woman spoke to someone at the
counter, who gestured Monica's direction as she answered, leaving the
computer records specialist wondering what she should do first, fall
into a dead faint or run for cover. She settled on just staring
wide-eyed as the woman drew close, her eyes bright, a faint smile on her
lips. Monica had the distinct impression the brunette stared right
through her and instantly knew her every fantasy---which was incredibly
embarrassing given that the woman smiling down at her suddenly figured
very heavily in them. The librarian offered a weak smile, her eyes
falling on crimson that lips that drew into a charming smile.
"Hello, Ms. Jeffries, I understand you're the one I need to
speak to about accessing public records?"
Monica's head bobbed in a nod as she struggled to keep her gaze from
trailing down from those full lips to a body that was both curved and
lean in all the right places, and all the right proportions. "Uh
... yeah ... public," thank god, she didn't say pubic, which was
mildly amazing considering where her brain was apparently residing at
that exact moment, "records."
"Perfect," the brunette drawled, her eyes and voice
promising all the pleasures in the world. "I'm ... Lena ...
Carstairs, by the way," she added and held out a hand. Her skin
felt scorchingly hot as Monica automatically reached up and accepted the
"Um ... Monica Jeffries," Monica stammered nervously.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Jeffries," Lena murmured,
then directed another slow smile Monica's way as she pulled a chair over
and sank down into it, sitting as gracefully as she walked. "You
see, I'm rather hoping you can help me with a bit of a problem."
She could pretty much have anything she wanted, Monica mused as she
felt her body respond as though there were tiny firecrackers going off
all over the place. "If I possibly can," she said quickly.
Lena smiled and settled a hand on Monica's, thumb just barely grazing
her knuckles. "Well, it's kind of ... embarrassing...." She
leaned a little closer, her tone conspiratorial. "You see I met
this woman I was very attracted to---I hope that doesn't shock
"No ... not at all," Monica insisted almost instantly,
though she seriously considered settling in for a good cry. There was
just something almost too cruel to be true about the notion that this
woman was into women, but was already interested in someone. Not that
she thought she'd ever be in this woman's class, but it�s no fun
having one�s fantasies shattered just as they�re being formed.
"I mean ... it's ... uh ... everyone should be able to express what
they feel without feeling any shame...." Dear God, she'd slid into
some weird babbling space. Who knew what she might say next? She tried
to put her mind back on her job. "But I don't understand what
"Well, we met at an art show ... and I didn't get her name ...
but I'd really like to see her again."
"Ok-ay," Monica exhaled uncertainly. "I still don't
see how I--"
"Well, you see, an old friend of sorts showed up, and I lost
track of this woman, but I did get her license plate number as she was
"Oh ... um ... well..." she stammered, trying desperately
not to notice the warmth of the hand covering her own.
"And I was kind of hoping you could look it up, and tell me who
she is." Lena offered a tiny grin ... possibly the sexiest smile
Monica had ever seen in her life.
Monica would have preferred it if the was romance directed her way,
but barring that, she had the softest heart for these sorts of things.
She also had a job. "Oh ... you do know that we're supposed to
notify the person and get permission before giving out any
information?" she murmured, sensing that other woman wasn't likely
to be happy with that news.
Full lips pursed ever so slightly, but the brunette's tone was almost
fawning. "An excellent precaution obviously. There are so many
maniacs out there these days." She paused momentarily, a faintly
pleading expression glowing in her almost hypnotic green eyes.
"It's just that I was kind of hoping to surprise her with
"Oh," Monica exhaled. Oh god, that was the most romantic
thing she'd heard since her best friend, Annie, started dating a guy who
wrote greeting card poetry. He�d been smart, funny, brought flowers,
remembered anniversaries, and always knew exactly the right thing to
say. If he'd just been a woman, he'd have been perfect. This woman was
better. "Well, I suppose ... maybe..." she murmured, still
staring into a mesmerizing pair of green eyes. She felt her heart kick
into high gear as a high wattage smile was directed her way.
"I knew you looked like someone who enjoys helping true
Monica nodded, her heart throbbing in her chest, the sound so loud it
was a wonder she could hear a thing. "If you'll just give me the
number, I'll see what I can do."
Ten minutes later, Monica cursed very softly. "I'm sorry, but it
looks like it's a corporate vehicle. Probably a loaner from her
"I don't suppose you could tell me what company," the
brunette suggested quietly.
Monica pulled up another screen, then shrugged. "Satco. Erudex
Unlimited. It's an offshore corporation...." She frowned.
"There's a local contact address, but I recognize it. It's one of
those mailbox companies." She frowned ever so slightly, trying to
make sense of that. One would think a company large enough to own
executive vehicles would have more than just a box drop. She was still
considering that problem when the other woman interrupted her thoughts.
One dark brow arched suggestively. "Damn." The brunette
considered the problem for a moment, then began again. "Any way you
could trace her through a driver's licence ... physical features and
such ... at least narrow it down maybe? She's pretty unique ... red
hair, green eyes, 5'-4" to 5'-6"...." She paused
momentarily, then quietly added, " and she uses a wheelchair."
Monica's brows shot up. "You're looking for Barbara
Gordon?" she exhaled in shock.
Cat green eyes narrowed faintly. "You know her?" she said,
her tone clipped this time.
"We were in the same library science program in undergrad,"
Monica said in shock. "I mean I don't know that it's the same
person ... but she matches the description ... and the last time I saw
her she was driving a Hummer."
Full lips moved, mouthing the name as Lena floated away for a moment.
"I know that name," the brunette murmured after a moment, her
"Her dad used to be the police commissioner."
"The police ... commissioner?" the brunette repeated, her
voice creaking ever so slightly. She shielded her face momentarily with
one hand, and Monica could have sworn she muttered, "Of
"And she always seemed really straight ... y'know ... in
When the brunette finally dropped her hand, she offered a charming
smile, though for the first time Monica had the distinct feeling it was
artificially pasted on. Or maybe that it took effort this time, since it
suddenly occurred to her that maybe it had always been artificial.
"I don't suppose you'd know of some way to contact her?" The
question was hopefully asked and green eyes gleamed.
Monica still felt the force of the raw charm directed her way, but it
was finally starting to sink in that maybe she'd gone too far. Even if
she'd been able to answer the question, she wasn't sure she would have.
She shook her head. "Sorry ... no. She used to come in here
sometimes, but I haven't seen her in more than a year." She wasn't
really sure about that, but she suddenly didn't want this woman coming
here in search of Barbara. She remembered the other woman fairly well
since they'd been part of the same study group at one time. She'd always
liked her, and Babs had been one of the few people who hadn�t freaked
when she came out.
Green eyes flashed, but Lena's---and Monica abruptly had it in her to
wonder if that was her real name---tone remained cool. "Thank you
anyways, then." The fire drained out her gaze, leaving Monica with
the impression that it wasn't really directed her way, and she rose
gracefully. "I appreciate your help." Her gaze became distant,
as though she was seeing another place and time. "At least I know
more than I did." She started to turn away, only to turn back, her
expression serious to the point of grimness, any attempt at charm gone
missing. "I don't suppose you know what happened to her ... the
chair, I mean."
Feeling her brows draw together in a frown, Monica stared up at the
other woman in shock. Given that it had been all over the Gotham papers,
she was surprised there was anyone left who didn't know what had
happened to Barbara Gordon. "I guess you weren't in town a few
years ago," she said softly.
Lena shook her head. "I was away for a bit," she said
without elaborating. "What happened? Some kind of accident ... a
Monica shook her head, the words threatening to dry up as she
remembered the morning she'd opened the paper and found Barbara's
picture on the front page under a screaming headline. It was the closest
she'd ever come to real violence, and it still made her shake. "You
really don't know," she breathed, a little caught up in that old
"What is it? What happened?" Sick fear throbbed in that
husky, warm voice, turning it from the sensual to something much darker
in an instant.
"She was shot," Monica said and glanced down at her own
hand where it rested on the mouse. "She was at her dad's one night
... knock on the door and she answered it. Some sick fuck mad at her
father was there ... he just shot her." She knew her mouth was
running unchecked, but the memory was still enough to shake her ...
especially the sickest parts of it. "Then he took pictures ...
stripped her clothes off and photographed her like that." Her
stomach rolled. The local papers hadn't printed any of the pictures, but
the tabloids had, and they still popped up online sometimes---on snuff
sites that catered to sickos who got off on that sort of thing---though
they never seemed to last long. She guessed law enforcement made sure
they came down. She'd glimpsed them a few times when people had used
library computers to try and access that sort of thing. It was beyond
"Who?" Lena broke in on Monica's thoughts, her tone so
rough it sounded as though she'd been gargling ground glass. "Who
"Some freak who called himself the Joker. Guess he...." She
didn't get a chance to finish as the brunette turned on her heel and all
but fled without another word. It occurred to Monica that maybe she
should have kept her mouth shut. She'd always had a problem with saying
too much, and instinct told her that she'd done it again. Oddly enough,
despite a few moments of nervousness, she suddenly wasn't worried for
her old schoolmate's safety. The hell she'd seen in green eyes hadn't
been threatening. It had been shattered and even guilty ... which made
no sense now that she thought about it.
* * * * * * *
Selina grabbed the first thing she could reach when she entered her
apartment, and flung it hard, the sound of shattering porcelain nowhere
near as satisfying as she'd hoped.
That white-faced, green-haired freak.
He was the one who'd....
A sick burst of nausea twisted her stomach into knots.
And she'd worked with him a couple of times ... helped him ... looked
to the mainline chance, calculated the profit, ignored what might happen
to his victims, and gone ahead with it. Even knowing what he was, she'd
played the game for her own benefit. She almost screamed, then slammed
her fist into the wall, the pain in her knuckles nowhere near enough to
dull the agony throbbing in her chest. She could have killed him more
than once, could have reached out and snapped his neck and ended it all
before it began. How many lives could she have saved? How much pain
could people have avoided?
She grabbed for something else, felt the compression of arm and
shoulder muscles as she hurled it as hard as she was able. Again the
shattering sound was strangely devoid of any satisfaction. Once upon a
time such displays of temper had soothed her. Of late, they only seemed
to make things worse.
Maybe it was because she now knew what the pain was like. Once upon a
time she hadn't let herself care, had simply thrown herself into her
chosen career, not caring where the chips fell so long as she came out
ahead, and they didn't land on her head. Only the last year had shown
her just how thoroughly people could be hurt and she'd suffered her own
losses, the last one enough to wind up with her sister in a mental ward,
totally catatonic, and very probably there for the rest of her life.
Sighing heavily, she leaned against the wall, abruptly deflating as
it all swept over her. She'd done it all. No escaping it now. She'd done
it and never felt a moment's guilt when she was doing it. No, that
wasn't entirely true. At least one thing she'd done still haunted her
... in every way imaginable, good and bad. She'd shoved it into the back
alleys of her mind for years, only pulling the memory out during the
darkest, loneliest hours of the night, but ever since running into
Valerie Lewton, her mind had insisted on replaying it. And now to see
her again. She shook her head, eyes sliding closed as she remembered the
feel of a firm, heated body trapped in her arms, the soft sounds of
innocence lost as silky flesh clutched at her fingers, the taste and
smell of a body discovering arousal for the first time. She'd
wanted---still wanted, if she was honest---and taken. And the worst part
was that she couldn't even find it in her to back away from the course
she'd set ... to take again. She'd tried to pretend it was simple
curiosity, maybe even a possible tool somewhere down the line, but faced
with her own perfidy, she couldn't maintain the fa�ade that it was
anything but desire that drove her. It would be gently done seduction
rather than handcuffs this time, but no less a campaign to steal
something she wanted. And with the same refusal to be denied.
Selina pushed away from the wall, straightening her shoulders, the
wild rage sliding on past, leaving a cool kind of determination in its
place. She was a different person now, one who wouldn't repeat the same
mistakes. There'd been temptation in Batgirl's green eyes before; her
body had exploded with pleasure under the ministrations of Selina's
fingers. And before it was over she'd capitulated at some level. A
shudder slid through Selina, heating her body as she remembered the feel
of soft lips and rough tongue sliding over her finger, tasting the
evidence of their encounter.
All that was assuming that Barbara Gordon really was her. If Joker
had shot her, there would have been news stories, undoubtedly pictures
as well. She flicked on the laptop computer she'd finally given in and
learned how to use some months before, logging on with the intent of
hitting the local newspaper archives.
A little over two hours later she knew the truth.
Red was Barbara Gordon.
And human nature was just sick some days. She'd found the original
newspaper articles, with pictures of the pretty redhead from her college
And then she'd found the reference to the other pictures....
The ones the Joker took.
And wound up learning things about human nature that she'd probably
guessed and deliberately avoided seeing when she was working with some
of the slimiest scum ever to walk the earth.
There were perverts sick enough to want to see that---to be aroused
by seeing that---and they were out there looking for it.
In fact, an entire mythos had developed around them, replete with
tales of virused images, hacked websites, and a nasty little tapeworm
that once loaded on the owner's computer would check for kiddie porn and
turn the IP number over to the F.B.I. if it found anything.
The amazing part was that at least some of the rumors appeared to be
true. Several snuff sites had apparently gone down within hours of
posting the stolen shots, and the computer system of one rag that had
printed them apparently hadn't worked right since.
Oracle, Selina realized in a blink. The computer hacker wouldn't have
a problem doing something like that ... or building up a little bit of
urban myth around it. Good for her. It seemed to have the perverts
cowed. Quite a few even insisted that they knew of people who'd
downloaded the jpegs and even they were somehow virused.
And then she actually stumbled across two of them, freshly posted on
a usenet group, and automatically decoded. Selina had to back away from
the computer to keep from destroying something. When she finally moved
again, it was to slam the screen shut so she didn't have to look at them
She sat frozen for a long time, then finally reached up, massaging
her temple slowly, trying to work away the headache throbbing there.
She'd spent her life pretending that the things she did hadn't really
hurt anyone ... that somehow a rough childhood made it all right ...
that the world owed her something ... that it was just money she was
She let her head fall forward into her hands, suddenly exhausted
beyond measure. She needed to think, to figure out what to do next.
The only thing she was certain about was she couldn�t just walk
Not this time.
* * * * * *
Dark blonde brows drew into a frown as Dinah Lance entered Oracle�s
clocktower lair. Babs was hunched over a computer station, her full
attention on a readout onscreen, her gaze focused and intense. It wasn�t
what you�d call an unusual sight. Barbara Gordon---AKA Oracle---in
full-out intense mode was pretty much the norm in the clocktower. The
only reason Dinah didn�t see it all that often was that usually Oracle
was so intense because she was desperately trying to keep Dinah alive.
Being the Black Canary could be a real bitch some days.
Still, despite the fact that desperate and driven were pretty much
Barbara Gordon�s default mode, there was something about it that just
felt off to Dinah and had for a couple of days. Her partner had gone
missing for close to twelve hours and come back insisting she�d just
needed a little time off, but Dinah was certain something wasn�t quite
right. She just couldn�t put her finger on it. She paced around behind
her best friend, watching her silently, then abruptly vaulted over a
nearby desk chair, somehow managing to land in a comfortable pose with
her feet up on the desk, legs loosely crossed at the ankles. She folded
her arms across her chest and grinned as an annoyed green gaze swung her
way. "So, Babs, what�s up?"
Russet brows rose in a high arch and Barbara made a small, random
gesture to indicate the computer screen. "Just trying to track some
things down," she murmured without getting specific.
"Ah," Dinah murmured. "So are you doing okay?"
"Fine. Why?" Barbara responded, her tone more clipped than
usual, not that she was generally a bundle of warm fuzzies when at work.
She could be sweet as hell when she wanted, but when lost in a computer
problem, sometimes it seemed to Dinah like she became a bit of a
Dinah shrugged. "I don�t know. You just seem a
little...." She trailed to a halt, expression scrunching up as she
considered her words carefully. "Are you and Nightwing having any
problems?" For a steady couple, they seemed to have a lot of come
and go weirdness---not that weirdness was exactly unheard of in their
business, but they seemed to have more than their fair share, and Dinah
often got the feeling that Barbara was nowhere near as committed as
Dick, although there were times she wasn�t all that sure about Dick
either. Actually, now that she thought about it, there were definitely
times when she got the distinct feeling they were both there because it
was comfortable and safe rather than out of any great, passionate desire
for each other.
Barbara blinked owlishly behind her glasses, her expression
disapproving. "Why do you ask?"
Which wasn�t an answer in Dinah�s opinion and seemed far more
evasive than Barbara�s usual style. Still, it didn�t pay to attack
Babs head on. She was much too smart for that. A more devious approach
was typically called for. Which wouldn�t have been so much of a
problem were it not for the fact that devious wasn�t really Dinah�s
strong suit. That was why her partnership with Barbara worked so well.
Babs did the devious thing, Dinah did the leap in, feet first,
asskicking thing, and all was good. Dinah considered her response for a
moment before shrugging. "I dunno, you�ve just been in a funk for
a couple of days, and funkishness in your case often seems to relate to
the former boy wonder." Okay, so screw deviousness. It just so wasn�t
Barbara shook her head, turning away to glare at the computer.
"It�s not about Dick."
Which was a tacit admission that something was indeed wrong, Dinah
realized as the words sank in. "So what is it about?" she
asked, eschewing any attempts at trickery altogether. Ironic though it
was, considering her history as an undercover agent, but she was just no
good at being sneaky, at least not this kind of sneaky. Though, judging
by how quickly her efforts to go undercover usually got noticed,
possibly not that kind of sneaky either.
Barbara flashed a quick glance Dinah�s way. "It�s not,"
she said too quickly. "I mean, it�s not about anything," she
babbled, which was almost too weird for Dinah. Barbara Gordon just did
not babble under normal circumstances. "That is, there�s nothing
for it to be about." Clearly, that hadn�t come out quite right
either, and Barbara tried again. "I mean, I�m fine."
Dinah just stared at her friend for a long moment. "Well, that
was as clear as mud," she said at last.
"Look, it�s nothing," Barbara insisted. "I�m
"Well, that was incredibly believable...not," Dinah scoffed
and pushed to her feet, easily insinuating herself between Barbara and
the computer screen, arms still folded across her chest, hip hitched
against the edge of the computer station. "So what�s really
up?" she tried again.
Barbara glared, leaning back and forth in an effort to get a look
around Dinah, who neatly blocked her efforts. "Dinah..." the
redhead said at last, her tone brusque.
Dinah grinned and leaned down into her friend and partner�s space,
now utterly convinced that Barbara was hiding something important and
determined to find out what. She drew a breath to ask, then suddenly
blinked. "Hey," she said abruptly, her attention caught by the
red mark just barely visible under the edge of Barbara�s blouse,
"is that a hickey?"
Already pale skinned, both naturally and from hours avoiding
sunlight, Barbara went bone white, one hand instinctively rising to
cover the mark in question. "No!" she insisted.
Dinah batted her hand aside and leaned in close to get a better look.
"The hell you say," she disagreed. "That�s a
hickey." Blonde brows shot up. "Believe me, I know
hickeys." She offered a knowing grin and straightened enough to
stare into green eyes. "If it�s not about Dick, pray tell, who�s
been giving you hickeys?"
Barbara�s mouth opened, lips working silently for a long moment as
she struggled to formulate an answer.
"And no, I�m not gonna drop it," Dinah informed her
cheerfully. Whatever this was, it was big, and she had no intention of
being left out.
Barbara snapped her mouth shut and leaned back in her chair. A soft,
disgusted sigh escaped full lips. "It�s---"
"Nothing?" Dinah finished for her, then shook her head.
"Oh, no. That is so not believable." She braced her hands on
the arms of her friend�s wheelchair, then grew more serious.
"Something�s up. What is it?"
A long moment passed, and then Barbara let her head fall against
back. "You�re not going to let this go, are you?" she asked
in a defeated tone.
Dinah shook her head and simply said, "Babs?"
Barbara sighed and folded her arms protectively across her chest, her
eyes firmly on the ceiling overhead. She was silent for a long moment
and then she finally muttered. "The other day ... when I took off
... I did something I really shouldn�t have."
A frown creasing her features, Dinah leaned back against the computer
station, worried now. "What?" Barbara just wasn�t one for
doing things she shouldn�t. Well, except for the fact that she
regularly broke dozens of computer security laws, and stole money from
organized crime to fund her work as Oracle, but other than that she was
completely honest, and that was in the name of good, which wasn�t the
same thing as regular dishonesty at all.
"I cheated on Dick," Barbara admitted almost inaudibly, her
eyes still firmly on the ceiling, looking anywhere but at Dinah.
Shocked to the core, Black Canary froze for a long moment, her mouth
hanging open. Finally, she managed to snap it shut. "You ... you
... on ... with ... cheated?" she babbled, comfortably certain that
any meaning was seriously missing from her attempt at communication.
A heavy sigh escaped full lips. "It wasn�t something I
planned," Barbara insisted. "It just ... it happened."
She shook her head helplessly. "I shouldn�t have ... but I just
... it wasn�t like anything I�ve ever felt before...."
Dinah was still staring goggle-eyed at her friend. "You ...
cheated?" she finally managed to get out. "Who with?"
Barbara waved the question aside. Certain things just weren�t easy
to imagine. "It doesn�t matter---" she started to say, but
Dinah cut her off.
"It was the Blue Beetle, wasn�t it?" Dinah demanded.
"Because I�ve seen the way he looks at you---"
"No!" Barbara instantly denied the charge in outraged
tones. She�d had her chance and while his attention had been
flattering, it wasn�t the same thing at all. "Look, it�s no one
"Oh, my god, was it Batman?" Dinah continued, barely
pausing long enough to take a breath before offering another guess.
"Good God, no!" Barbara shuddered with unconcealed horror.
If she had a brother, that was exactly what that suggestion would feel
"Yeah, that would be kinda icky," Dinah allowed, but it
didn�t slow her down. "Y�know Jason Bard�s still in town, and
still has a thing for you---"
Speaking of people she�d had her shot at and turned away from.
"No," Barbara growled. "Look, I really wish you�d
Dinah refused to take the hint and went on guessing. "Is it one
of the guys with the JLA?"
A sudden, uncomfortable though occurred to the blonde. "It had
better not be Ollie---"
"Dinah, don�t be ridiculous!" Barbara all but shouted,
the whole topic getting on her nerves in a fairly severe fashion.
"He�s married!" Barbara snapped, blowing the sort of
information she really was supposed to keep completely confidential
before she could think better of it. Thankfully, Dinah was so absorbed
in trying to figure out who she�d slept with that she never noticed.
The blonde made several more suggestions from the usual list of steroid
enhanced superheroes, plus a few of the cyber geeks who�d wandered
through the clocktower over the years, each suggestion soundly denied by
Finally, running a little low on candidates, Dinah frowned
momentarily as she hunted for another option. "That pizza delivery
boy who has a crush on you---"
"Dinah, he can�t be more than 17," Barbara pointed out.
She saw her friend draw breath to say something she was comfortably
certain was going to piss her off even more. She stuck a finger into the
blonde�s face. "Don�t even suggest it."
"Right," Dinah allowed. "That would be pretty
disgusting ... not to mention illegal."
Barbara leaned deeper into her chair with a tired sigh. She hadn�t
slept well for the past several nights and it was starting to show. She
loved Dinah to death, but at that particular moment, she really could
have done without her unique charm. "Look, you�re never going to
figure it out, so why don�t you just give it a rest." She
fervently wished she�d just kept her mouth shut. Shut was good.
Silence was good. Clearly Dinah knowing was bad because it went against
the whole shut and silence being good concept.
Pausing, Dinah stared at her friend, trying to put things together in
her head. Normally Barbara shared everything with her, and she didn�t
like being cut out of the loop. And considering some of what Babs had
told her over the years, she couldn�t figure out why she�d keep this
secret. "Babs," she said at last, her tone cautious, "it
is one of the good guys, right?" After all, Barbara wouldn�t walk
on the wild side, now would she? Hell, even Dinah hadn�t done that ...
much anyway. Okay, so there was that little fling with Ra's Al Ghul, but
she�d honestly thought he was just a sexy millionaire. It had never
occurred to her that he might be a immortal demon type out to turn her
into his mate and evil minion. Really, it wasn�t like every guy out
there was either a hero or a bad guy. Okay, so most of them in her
experience, but there�d been a chance he was just a normal guy. It
suddenly occurred to her that Barbara hadn�t answered and her
expression fell. "Please tell me it�s not a bad guy," she
requested in a surprisingly calm voice all things considered.
"It�s-it�s not," Barbara responded so haltingly that
Dinah didn�t believe a word of it.
"Oh. My. God," Dinah exhaled, completely shellshocked.
"Please tell me it�s not Ra�s Al Ghul." One of them
falling for that line of B.S. was more than enough. Too much really. But
if Babs---the uber-genius, practical, super-smart one---went off and did
something that stupid, well, it was probably a sign of the coming of the
four horsemen of the apocalypse, or at least the return of Elvis. And
given that Dinah never had liked Viva Las Vegas, she wasn�t at
all comfortable with that idea.
"It�s not," Barbara insisted.
Dinah was still in shock mode. "Now tell me it�s not a bad
guy," she requested in that same, slightly flat tone.
"Actually," Barbara sighed, accepting that she couldn�t
play this game any longer and Dinah wasn�t going to stop with the
guesses until she learned something more concrete, "it�s not a
guy at all."
Dinah blinked, struggling to decode that sentence and come up with
what it might be if it wasn�t a guy. Well, okay, so there were a
couple of more or less asexual energy creatures running around the
superheroing world, and she supposed there were probably a few non-human
alien types that might qualify, but she couldn�t quite imagine some
energy creature giving Babs that hickey, and while there was probably
some alien out there with a sucker that could do the job, she just
couldn�t see her friend being swept off her wheels by that sort of
thing. "Then what was it?" she finally found the courage to
Barbara�s head tipped to one side as she considered that question.
"Well, if it�s not a guy...." She trailed off suggestively.
Dinah shrugged a little helplessly, still struggling to work it out.
"Considering some of the ... er ... people you and I know, it could
be almost anything."
Momentarily caught by surprise, Barbara could only stare. Dinah had a
point, she had to admit, but still.... "Well, it�s not a
something, it�s a someone, if that helps."
Dinah still looked blank. If Barbara had ever had any doubts about
her friend�s heterosexuality, they were completely quashed. Dinah
apparently couldn�t even contemplate the idea. It just didn�t
compute for her.
"It�s a woman," Barbara explained at last. Clearly, this
subject wasn�t going away, and Dinah wasn�t going to figure it out
Judging by her expression, an alien might have seemed more logical to
Dinah. Blonde brows drew together in a frown and there was a definite
sense of the gears between her ears grinding to life. "Wonder
Woman?" she said at last. "Because okay...yeah, she�s pretty
impressive." As JLA members, they�d worked together a few times,
and she was definitely.... Yes, she was. Dinah could almost imagine
that. Wonder Woman had shoulders, muscles, lots of shoulders and
muscles. Dinah liked shoulders and muscles.
"I�ve never even met her in person," Barbara responded
and started to say even more.
Before she had a chance, Dinah slapped her forehead. "Oh, god,
Powergirl," she said suddenly, looking none too thrilled by the
concept. "I always thought there was something a little intense on
her part where you�re concerned---" More shoulders and muscles,
even if they were attached to a personality that had all the appeal of a
"She hates me!" Barbara exploded, leaning back in her chair
as Dinah suddenly thrust a finger into her face.
"Which is only one step from love sometimes," the blonde
pointed out. "And I�m telling you, that woman is very intense
where you�re concerned."
"Because she thinks I got a lot of people killed!" Barbara
"Or maybe it�s all frustrated lust---"
"It�s not Karen," Barbara insisted.
"Then who?" Dinah demanded, still half convinced she was
right and it was Powergirl.
Barbara flopped back in her chair, fervently wishing she�d just
left it alone, but no, Dinah was her best friend, so she�d let it
slip. "It doesn�t matter," she sighed on an exhausted note,
"since it�s never going to happen again." She pinched the
bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. "God, I
shouldn�t have...." She shook her head, momentarily blocking
Dinah out. When she opened her eyes again, Dinah was crouched in front
of her wheelchair.
"Babs?" Blue eyes searched green and any humor dropped out
Dinah�s voice. "This really has you ripped up."
"It was ... it�s ... I don�t what I...." Barbara kept
trying and failing to describe her emotions. How could she, when she
didn�t understand them either.
"Who is it, Babs?" Dinah asked after a beat, no longer
trying to play any guessing games.
Barbara swallowed hard, eyes sliding away from her friend�s closely
watching gaze. "Selina Kyle." She heard Dinah�s soft gasp.
"As in Catwoman?"
"Is there another Selina Kyle I don�t know about?"
"God, I hope so ... or rather I hope there�s one I don�t
know about and that�s who you...." Dinah didn�t finish the
sentence, just made a rather half-hearted gesture with one hand. She
stared at her friend, her posture deflating as it all sank in. "Oh,
god," she exhaled at last. "You did it, didn�t you? You
slept with Catwoman." Dinah didn�t know quite what to do with
that knowledge. This meant that Babs had managed a grand slam surprise,
a woman and a ... well, not a bad guy precisely, at least not these
days, but a long ways from somebody on the side of truth, justice, and
the American way.
Barbara nodded, slumping in her chair and hiding her face. God, why
hadn�t she just kept her mouth shut? She was surprised when she felt a
gentle hand cover her own where it rested on her thigh.
"You okay?" Dinah asked gently.
Which was a far more complex question than it really should have
been. "I don�t know," Barbara admitted.
A soft sigh greeted the question. "I went to the art show ...
the one with the paintings I blackmailed her into returning ... and she
was there ... and then she was at my car ... and then we were having
lunch ... and somewhere along the way she was kissing me ... and then I
was suddenly in a hotel room with her...." Barbara fell silent, the
stilted confession ending as suddenly as it had begun as it occurred to
her that Dinah was staring as though she�d grown a spare head or
Unable to think of anything else to do, Dinah blinked, then blinked
again when an appropriate course of action still hadn�t occurred to
her. Twenty or thirty blinks later, she finally managed to work up a
question, "Does she know who you are?" though she was
uncertain whether the who referred to Batgirl, Oracle, Barbara Gordon,
or possibly all three.
"I don�t know," Barbara admitted without looking up. She
thought about it for a long moment. "She might have recognized me
as Batgirl...but I don�t see how she could know about Oracle."
Dinah took a moment to absorb that answer, her expression twisting
into a confused frown. Something was going on with Babs, something she
wasn�t talking about. They worked so closely together, and while Dinah
knew she wasn�t always the most sensitive soul in the house, she knew
Barbara Gordon better than most. She was still hiding something.
"Okay, so if she recognized you as Batgirl," she said at last,
feeling her way, then continuing to pursue the subject when she saw
Barbara tense, "why would Selina go into pursuit mode?"
Barbara stared down at her twined hands with laser-like intensity,
but didn�t answer.
"Babs?" Dinah whispered when Barbara still hadn�t spoken
a full two minutes later.
Another minute or two passed in total silence, leaving Dinah to
wonder if maybe her friend had stroked out.
Finally, Barbara tipped her chin up and green eyes rose. "I told
you about how Catwoman helped me stop Ryder Burnham when he was
murdering young women...."
Dinah nodded, but didn�t speak, afraid of scaring Barbara back into
Barbara took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "What I didn�t
tell you was that afterwards...when she gave me that painting I told you
about...she was there...and...."
"And?" Dinah finally prompted when Barbara fell silent and
didn�t appear to be ready to continue.
"Something happened," Barbara continued at last. "It
shouldn�t have...but it did..."
Dark blonde brows shot up, and Dinah simply stared at her friend and
partner, waiting to hear the rest of the story.
Barbara looked back down at her hands. It was easier if she just
stared at them and didn�t even try to look anywhere else. "It
wasn�t...simple...and I�ve never known how to feel about it."
She looked up, and there were tears in green eyes. "She handcuffed
me," she said very softly, "and she touched me...slid her hand
inside my costume ...and...and...." She couldn�t finish.
"Babs?" Dinah demanded, looking scared and more than a
little appalled now.
"She touched me," Barbara whispered the hardest words she�d
ever uttered in her entire life. She�d never told anyone else, had
locked the memory of that unwanted and terrifying arousal away in the
deepest recesses of her mind, refusing to look too closely at it.
"Used her hand ... and made me ... I was begging her to stop and
begging her not to. And when it was over, everything was
different." She looked up again, frowning deeply. "When she
was done, she held up her fingers with my blood on them...and made me
taste it...and I---"
Dinah abruptly jerked to her feet, hands clenched into tight fists at
her sides. "I�m gonna kill her," she hissed as what her
friend was telling her sank in.
"Dinah!" Barbara shouted before Dinah had gone more than
two steps. "What are you doing?"
Dinah spun back, her expression twisted into one of rage.
"Unless I�m very mistaken, you just told me the bitch raped you
...and I�m gonna kill her."
"Dinah...no, you can�t." Barbara shook her head,
struggling with her own emotions. "It wasn�t ...it wasn�t that
simple," she whispered, her voice ragged and uneven.
"Not that simple?" Dinah disagreed. "Handcuffs,
begging to stop...blood! Sounds simple to me...and like I said, I�m
gonna kill the bitch." She had no idea where Selina was, but she
was going to find her---Gotham wasn�t that big a city---and then
Selina Kyle was dead. Whatever had happened in that hotel room, clearly,
it hadn�t been kosher, and on top of the whole blood and handcuffs
thing...yeah, Selina Kyle was dead. Babs was big on the whole shades of
grey concept. Dinah didn�t have that problem. Black and white.
"No" equals "no." Dinah was very comfortable with
seeing things that way too. Selina hadn�t taken no for an answer.
Specifically, she hadn�t taken it from someone who was family as far
as Dinah was concerned. Yup, that was over the line. Dinah had never
killed before, but she could learn.
"I wanted her," Barbara admitted the truth that she�d
never before spoken aloud, had barely been able to look at before
because she could see the intent in the way Dinah moved and she couldn�t
Dinah froze, her back to Barbara. "Babs?" she hissed
tightly, unable to believe what she�d just heard, her rage on the
verge of becoming free-floating.
"I never wanted to ...to admit...to look at it...to be what it
Dinah did a slow turn, brows drawing into a frown as she stared at
her friend. "Babs," she whispered, her voice ragged and
uneven. This was too much, overwhelming, and scary as hell. Barbara
Gordon was supposed to be completely together, completely in control.
Hell, knock her spine out of action and she was still one of the most
powerful people in the superhero biz, because she was the hero that
controlled the others. A chess master among pawns. She was not some
weakling at the whim of...of whatever.
"I wanted her," Barbara said again, her eyes filling with
scared tears, "but I could never have admitted it then...and I
guess she knew that."
Her own eyes suddenly edged in silver tears, Dinah shook her head
slowly, trying to deny what the other woman was saying. No, no, no.
Barbara Gordon was not supposed to say things like that, or think things
like that. She was Miss All Right and Good with the World. She might see
things in shades of grey, but she never did them that way.
Except she did all the time, even if Dinah didn�t like to admit it.
Babs stole, she hacked, she slipped in and out of corporate records like
most people ate potato chips, and she manipulated the weak and evil with
ease. Oh, she did it to good ends, which was why Dinah was able to keep
her up on some impossible pedestal, but in terms of rigid ethics or
morals, Barbara Gordon was nothing but shades of grey.
"I wanted her," Barbara said again, more strongly this
time, though she still sounded sick and ashamed. "And I hated
myself for it...or for what it meant...." She shook her head,
seeming small and scared, not like the hero that Dinah knew. "I don�t
know. It scared me so goddamned much I just didn�t let myself think
Dinah strode back, kneeling in front of her friend, her chest and
throat so tight they hurt. "Babs...what are you...." She didn�t
know what else to say. "Did she force you into that hotel room in
any way?" she demanded quietly, thinking maybe she could deal with
the things she was hearing if she just focused on that. Maybe that would
be simple and cut and dried, and maybe it would give her the goddamned
excuse she needed to go and kick Selina Kyle�s ass the way friendship
seemed to demand.
"No," Barbara denied, "she just asked."
Dinah deflated, looking away and swallowing hard. Her hands were
trembling, she realized in a rush. "And so you just went?" she
demanded, still trying to puzzle it out, feeling as though maybe she�d
entered the Bizarro World she�d read about in JLA records, where
everything was the reverse of reality.
"Yes," Barbara said simply, not adding that those hours had
been among the most intense of her life. At least when it came to sex
and romance, there was nothing that equaled them..
Dinah considered that for a long moment, still trying to parse it all
out. "Why?" she asked at last, the question low and softly
spoken and yet still nearly enough to knock Barbara out of her
wheelchair. The redhead froze, staring down at her own hands with that
particular intensity that she had, which Dinah had literally never seen
in anyone else. Even Batman couldn�t do this trick, and god knew, he
could do the intensity thing. But with Babs, she always had a sense that
every fiber of her being was looking at a problem when she got that
expression. It was like she got inside the problem, turned it around and
looked at it from every angle possible at almost a molecular level.
Considering the genius behind those eyes, it was entirely possible she
"I wanted her," Barbara said at last, the admission coming
at the cost of rasping vocal cords and a heart pounding so hard it
threatened to seize up. She looked up, as scared as she�d ever been in
her life, fully expecting to see---she wasn�t sure what---in Dinah�s
eyes, but nothing good. Instead, her friend looked a little scared and a
lot shaken, but there was no anger, and no disgust, just a rather
For her part, Dinah didn�t understand at one level. The notion of
being that swept away by attraction to a woman was something she had to
admit she just didn�t get, but being that swept away by attraction,
period? Yeah, she understood that one too well. She could chalk up any
number of really bad decisions in her life, and maybe a few good ones as
well, to that sort of instant, chemical, just go with the flow because
you�ve got no choice, overwhelming need. "Okay," she exhaled
at last, spinning it around in her head and looking at the problem from
all angles. Babs might be Miss Computer Goddess, but she was a dolt when
it came to relationships as far as Dinah had ever been able to tell.
"What are you going to do about it?"
Pale by nature and recent career choice---redheads not being great
for tans, and staring at a computer all day and night being no better
for it---Barbara still managed to lose several shades of color in
response to that question. "Nothing," she muttered. "It
was a one time thing...I shouldn�t have let it happen...and it�s
never happening again...it�s just." She shook her head, her eyes
dropping again. "I need to forget it ever happened."
Oh, yeah, that was likely to happen, Dinah thought as she watched her
partner�s uncharacteristically flustered response. Dinah knew all
about "forgetting" things like that, and just how thoroughly
that didn�t happen. "Babs," she began cautiously, still
struggling to come up with the right thing to say even as she began. The
problem was she truly couldn�t think of a delicate way to phrase what
she needed to say. "Are you sure that�s the best way to deal with
Green eyes slid closed, and Barbara seemed to shudder gently.
"It�s the only thing I can do," she insisted doggedly, her
hands twining together in her lap with white knuckled strength. "I
have to," she added, her voice little above a whisper. "I�ve
got Dick in my life...and I...I can�t...."
A hint of a frown touching her brow, Dinah watched her friend
closely. Forgetting definitely wasn�t going to work. Whatever had
happened between Babs and Selina Kyle had been with the redhead since
she was 19 years old. It wasn�t going to just go away now. She might
not understand the why of it, but Dinah knew that much. She reached up,
resting her hand over Barbara�s. "I�m not sure that�s the
best approach," she said very softly.
Green eyes swung up, narrowing faintly. "I have to,"
A soft sigh escaped Dinah�s lips. "It�s just that," she
began a little hesitantly, "it seems like maybe," boy, she
really didn�t know how to say what she was thinking, "your
relationship with Dick...it�s kind of...I mean, it seems
Barbara was watching her closely now, which only made Dinah stumble
over her words even worse.
"It�s just that...as long as I�ve known you...even when you
and Dick were together...it just seemed like...y�know...you weren�t
entirely...like you were still looking around...not really all
that...into it...." She stared at her hand where it covered Barbara�s,
totally avoiding her best friend�s gaze. "Like you weren�t
really in love," she exhaled at last, finally getting to the main
point of what she wanted to say.
Barbara instantly yanked her hand back, sitting stiffly. "I love
Dick," she said very softly, the words coming out frightened and a
little lost sounding.
Looking up, Dinah stared at her friend, trying desperately to
understand. "Yeah, you love him," she agreed. There was no
doubt about that. Barbara and Dick had been friends, flirted, fought
together, cried together, and been through so much. There was definitely
love there. But...but maybe not the kind of love Barbara wanted it to be
or Dick wanted. "But you�re not in love with him...and you never
Barbara�s eyed dropped and she stared at her hands where they now
rested in her lap. "I know," she whispered at last, then
looked up at Dinah, green eyes blazing, "but that doesn�t mean I
* * * * * *
Selina appears at a party that Barbara is also at...purposely. They
have words, and Selina ultimately sweeps Barbara off.
They are watched by someone...bad guys working for Valerie Lewton,
who has some very nasty plans of her own, and suspects that her old
friend Barbara is more than she appears.
Selina sweeps Babs off over the rooftops. They talk, wind up making
love again, but Babs is confused and feeling very guilty. Finally, she
gives way though, and they wind up making love in one of Selina's
hideouts. Give Selina the line about silk sheets after their second
encounter. "I knew you�d look good with your hair spread over
silk sheets." Barbara realizes Selina knows she was Batgirl, they
struggle, argue. Selina apologizes for what happened. Was all wrong, and
she knows it now. They were both different people then, Selina admits
how sickened she is by what she learned about what happened to Barbara
and by her own past.
It's that very regret and darkness that draws Babs in, and they make
love again, but it's very sweet this time.
Meanwhile Valeries' spies have appeared and get a bug on their
Afterward, Selina doesn't want to let Babs go, but part of proving
she's changed means not making those decisions for the other woman.
"I want to see you again."
Selina is involved in a scene where she helps Batman with a couple of
thugs, and is hurt (though not badly), while "Oracle" is
listening in. Babs doesn't know how she is, and quizzes Batman who's not
much help, and is quiet, lost in his own thoughts about Selina.
Later, unable to stay away, Babs calls Selina, worried about her.
Selina's hurting, but not so much that she can resist. She teases Babs,
wants to see her, stresses that she played the good guy and got hurt,
and needs someone to nurse her. Finally Barbara agrees to see her,
ostensibly just to check her injuries, but there's a lot more to it.
Agree to meet at an expensive hotel (neutral ground).
Valerie is still listening in, and realizes that Babs already knew
Selina was hurt.
Babs checks Selina's injuries, and they wind up kissing, then making
They're lazily enjoying each other when they hear something in the
other room. Thinking it's probably room service, Selina climbs out,
pulling on a robe and goes to see. Instead, as she steps through the
bathroom door, she's hit from behind and goes down hard. Valerie Lewton
is there in her catwoman knockoff outfit, with a couple of men who are
apparently working for her. Barbara tries to fight, but they hold her up
and she and Valerie confront one another then they hit her with knockout
gas. Selina regains consciousness as the men are about to carry Barbara
out, is ready to fight but Valerie braces her claws against Barbara's
neck. "If she lives, she won't be moving from the neck down this
time." Selina backs down. "What do you want?" Valerie
gives Selina a cell phone, says she'll find out in four days. In the
meantime, if she contacts anyone, Valerie will know ... and Barbara's
dead. And she leaves.
Selina debates what to do, and is very close to going after Batman or
trying to find Oracle ... still doesn't realize the truth. But the phone
rings. It's Valerie who reminds her that any attempt to find them will
cost Barbara her life.
When Valerie finally makes contact it's because she wants Selina's
services. Needs her to steal something...and then she can have Babs
back. It's a scientific doohickey, and Selina takes it with ease, then
appears at mansion Valerie has purchased (Ryder Burnham's as it turns
out). Valerie is jealous as hell of Barbara, taunting Selina that she
could have had her equal and instead went with a cripple. Selina is
furious, but not giving way.
At some point, Selina realizes that Valerie has used the time to have
the same sort of surgery performed on as was done to Burnham. It allows
Babs to walk, but means she could slide into insanity at any moment.
Oh, and Val has made it very difficult to get out alive...at least
with Babs in tow.