In A Song (part 5 of 12)

Sunday, 8:42am, Barbara’s Bedroom

Helena kept still, her eyes firmly closed, even though she’d shed most of the remnants of sleep. She knew the bed was empty before she snaked a hand across the sheets. With a groan, she rolled over, and inhaled deeply of an intimately familiar scent. Barbara. The name shot through her brain even as her eyes flew open.

Clothes, hers and Barbara’s, were piled haphazardly in the corner. The empty plate and water bottles on the night table, her own nakedness, and the palpable aroma of sex all confirmed that she’d hadn’t just dreamed the night before, hadn’t just dreamed falling asleep curled naked around the woman she’d loved for so long. Helena rolled onto her back and stretched her hearing abilities out past the closed bedroom door. After a few seconds she groaned again and pulled the pillow over her head willing gone the grating noise that floated to her ears.

Sunday: 8:45am: Clocktower kitchen

“So, I’m guessing last night turned out OK then,” Dick said, doing a poor job of keeping the amused smirk off his face.

Barbara raised an eyebrow, her expression skeptical. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.” Dick reached out with the hand not holding his coffee mug and pushed the collar of Barbara’s kimono open just a tad. “Unless I miss my guess, that is a hickey. I always suspected Helena was a biter.” He laughed as Barbara looked down in shock trying to see her own neck. After much futile craning and twisting of her head, she gave up and pulled the collar of the robe shut to cover the mark. She could feel the heat rise to her cheeks and her embarrassment over the blush just caused her to blush even harder.

In her caffeine-deprived state, Helena shuddered visibly as Dick’s laugh echoed out of the kitchen. Great, I get the happy ex-boyfriend. She rolled her eyes and finished climbing the rest of the spiral staircase. She stifled a yawn against the back of her hand as she shuffled into the kitchen. “Morning.” Helena crossed to the coffee pot, pulled a mug down from the cabinet, and poured the remainder of the coffee into her cup, yawning all the while. She could feel two sets of eyes trained on her back. Fuck it.

Barbara smiled as she watched Helena shuffle over to the table. She’d put on the blue terry cloth robe. Barbara blushed as Helena leaned in and kissed her lightly before dropping into an empty chair, one that put her directly between the redhead and her former lover at the round table. Helena sipped from the coffee mug as she stared at a point in the middle distance, her free hand idly stroking Barbara’s forearm.

“That’s enough out of you, Dick Grayson,” Barbara chided, her tone a mixture of embarrassment, humor, and mock indignation as Dick tried to maintain the most innocent expression she’d ever seen on his face.

“What? I said what?” Dick asked, unable to suppress the mirth in his voice. He’d never seen Barbara so happily embarrassed as when Helena kissed her. And even though it was Helena that was the cause, a happy Barbara was a good thing in his book.

“I’m going to go run this disk and see if there’s anything I can use on it. Don’t go anywhere.” Barbara glanced over at Helena who was watching the exchange like a tennis match while she did a good job of looking like she wasn’t paying any attention at all. Barbara snaked the hand that rested under the table in her lap beneath the edge of the robe to about half way up Helena’s thigh and gave a gentle squeeze. She caught the slight widening of Helena’s eyes. “Either of you.” She moved away from the table and out into the hall.

Helena flicked her eyes over to Dick’s face and was unsurprised to find him examining her critically. They stared at each other for a full minute, neither of them breaking eye contact, before he spoke. “You hurt her and I will kill you. You do know that, don’t you?” he said, in a very even, conversational tone.

“I won’t, you wouldn’t be able to on your best day, and I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Helena replied. She took another sip of coffee.

Sunday, 9:47am: Gabby’s bedroom

Dinah swept the paper scraps into the trash can and replaced the scissors and markers in Gabby’s desk, sliding the drawer closed as quietly as possible. She glanced over at the figure buried underneath the blankets, a soft smile creeping over her mouth as the memory of waking, wrapped firmly in Gabby’s arms, streaked across her brain.

She crossed to the bed and gazed down at the curly-haired girl she knew was soft and sleepy warm under the covers. Love warred with dread as Dinah fought the urge to brush her fingers through Gabby’s hair and across her cheek, to wake her with a soft kiss and see where it took them. She knew she was a kiss away from telling Gabby all her secrets. The deception felt as bad to Dinah as the idea of exposing Helena and Barbara, which was what telling Gabby the whole truth would do. Dinah smiled as Gabby turned over, pulling the blankets tight around her. She laid the note and her cut-out creation on the pillow she’d left empty and slipped out the bedroom door quietly.

As soon as the door latch clicked home, Gabby opened her eyes. She’d felt Dinah get out of bed, and even as the impulse to pull her back in surged through her, Gabby felt a wave of fear. The previous night had been everything she wanted for so long: Dinah’s voice in her ear, whispering her name; her hands, tender and sure in their intent even if they were a little shaky in their technique. What Gabby hadn’t counted on was the force of her own feelings. More than once those three little words had been on her lips, and more than once she’d had to consciously stop herself from saying too much too soon. Gabby could feel herself falling and the last time she had she’d landed hard, too hard.

Gabby rolled over to get the note she knew Dinah had left. She smiled when she saw the rose, cut out of notebook paper and colored in with magic markers. She held the flower gingerly as she unfolded the note and read:

“I’d shower you with rose petals if I could, you look so beautiful sleeping there across the room. Something to look forward to. I’ll call this afternoon. –D.”

She folded the note and stretched out well-used muscles. Something to look forward to, definitely.

Sunday, 10:12am: Bond Bread Warehouse roof

Marcus King gazed out with a smile over a New Gotham that was just shaking the sleep from its limbs under a sky mottled by fast moving clouds. The legitimate warehouses in the district had been hard at work for hours, loading the trucks that would supply the city’s restaurants and bars with the food and drink that was their trade. The newspaper route drivers had already been out and were just returning with the load of Saturday’s unsold papers from the boxes scattered across the city.

King breathed deep of the river breeze, the aroma of the city cleansed by the flowing water. As he stared out he didn’t really see what was in front of him. Instead he saw but a backdrop for his plan, the details laid like a transparency over the workings of city itself. New Gotham would be his biggest triumph yet. If it worked out well, perhaps he’d settle here, set up a permanent shop; after all, with Batman gone there was no one around to stop him.

Sunday: 10:26am: Clocktower

Dinah breathed out heavily as the elevator rose. She’d managed to avoid Gabby’s mom but she knew there was no way she’d be able to avoid Barbara. She felt beyond see-through: she felt like a billboard, as if strangers on the street could tell with just a glance how she’d spent several hours last night. Just the thought brought an involuntary rush of warmth to her cheeks and a smile she couldn’t suppress to her mouth. Despite the exquisite memories from the previous night, Dinah still hadn’t been able to get around the twisting in her stomach when she thought about what she was holding back from Gabby. The long, slow walk home hadn’t brought her any closer to an answer. Dinah took a deep breath and put on what she hoped was a nonchalant expression. As the elevator door opened she groaned inwardly with the realization that it didn’t matter what look she had on her face, she was going to get teased.

“Look who finally decided to join us,” Helena said from her perch on the Delphi’s table. Barbara’s arm was draped casually over Helena’s bent knee as they considered some document on one of the Delphi’s monitors. Even as her embarrassment threatened to spill over, evidenced by the blush-turned-burning she already felt in her cheeks, Dinah didn’t miss the way languid, absentminded way Barbara’s fingers brushed the top of Helena’s thigh.

Dinah pushed some hair behind her ear as she stepped up onto the Delphi’s platform. “It’s not even 10:30 yet,” she replied, stopping what she hoped was far enough away to be out of the range of Helena’s sense of smell. “Do I smell waffles?”

“Blueberry, and they should be ready soon,” Barbara said, glancing at Dinah. She offered up a silent thank you that Helena had gone home to change after Dick had left for Bludhaven. Processing Dinah’s reaction to her and Helena wasn’t something Barbara wanted to do before breakfast.

“My favorite,” Dinah said with a smile. “I’m just going to go change.” She turned and headed off to her room.

Barbara glanced over at Helena. “What?” she asked, taking in the smug look on Helena’s face.

“It’s about damn time. Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t know,” Helena replied in response to the odd look on the redhead’s face.

Barbara shook her head. “I knew. I’m just wondering how much she knows about, you know….” She waved her hand to indicate the two of them. She swallowed hard as she noticed from where she’d retrieved her hand to make the gesture.

Helena’s smirk got wider. “By the time we’re done sparring, she’ll probably know everything.” Helena laughed as she watched Barbara’s steel-trap mind work through the possibilities as the blush darkened her cheeks. She leaned down and kissed the redhead softly. “Don’t worry. I’ll try to keep some things to myself.” She tickled Barbara’s neck with her tongue.

“Helena, I’m serious,” Barbara said, eyes wide. Dinah’s trip through the throes of imagined passion in her head had been embarrassing enough. Barbara shied away from thinking about what the impact of a slide show of the previous night’s actual activities would be on her relationship with Dinah. Any pretense at wielding adult authority over the teenager would be buried for good.

Helena crossed her arms over her chest. “And whose modesty threshold have we stepped over now?” She looked toward Dinah’s room and then back at Barbara. “At seventeen she really shouldn’t have the whole ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ thing down so well.”

“‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ thing?” Barbara asked, arching an eyebrow.

“You know, coming home in the previous night’s clothes,” Helena snaked soft fingers under the fall of Barbara’s hair to caress her neck. Barbara grinned even though her eyes were focused on the documents displayed on the monitor. What Dick had delivered included some copies of purchase orders for the development company’s build-out in Los Angeles and Bludhaven. A quick glance, which she still wanted to confirm, indicated to Barbara they weren’t finishing the buildings before they opened the rental units. Yet, police reports from both cities had indicated full occupancy.

“It didn’t take you very long to master, did it?” She felt Helena’s fingers still on her neck. When Barbara turned to look at the brunette, it was only years of friendship that allowed her to see the wound she’d unintentionally created.

Helena’s hand slid down Barbara’s back as she eased off the Delphi’s table. “Yeah, guess not. I’m gonna go check on breakfast.” The twisting in her stomach made breakfast the last thing that Helena actually wanted.

“Helena, wait.” Barbara caught the younger woman by the wrist as she started to move away from the table. When Helena’s eyes met hers, she continued, “I didn’t mean…we’re not going to be able to do this if teasing you is now off limits.” She smiled softly, rubbing her thumb across Helena’s wrist, a spot Barbara had discovered, much to both of their shocks, was particularly sensitive for Helena.

Helena looked down at Barbara’s thumb moving over her skin, still stunned by the simple fact that the redhead head was actually touching her in a more than friendly way, stunned that the simplest small touch could crank her libido up so fast. “That’s not fair, you know,” she said, meeting Barbara’s eyes with a grin. She leaned down stopping just inches from Barbara’s face. “I may be forced to retaliate.”

Barbara blushed hard. She flicked her eyes toward Dinah’s room, noted the closed door, and back to Helena’s face as a cloud floated in front of the morning sun darkening the room slightly. “We’re not exactly alone here.”

Helena licked her lips slowly. “She’s taking a shower. She’s covered in Gabby’s smell and she knows we’re sparring later. She doesn’t want to give me any more ammunition.”

Barbara blushed even harder as her imagination instantly supplied its idea of Dinah and Gabby together. She shook her head. “What about Alfred?”

As Helena kissed her softly, Barbara vowed that she’d never let herself get jaded about the feeling of Helena’s mouth, warm, velvet lips, on hers. “What,” Helena said, kissing her again, “about Alfred?”

A very distinct throat-clearing noise issued from the upstairs landing. “Breakfast is served,” Alfred said, his tone completely neutral. Barbara’s blush turned a deeper crimson as Alfred turned and made his way back into the kitchen. Helena wiggled her eyebrows and grinned against Barbara’s mouth, giving her one last small kiss. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starved.” She straightened up with a grin and moved off the Delphi’s platform.

Sunday, 11:45am, Bond Bread Warehouse

Jake Tupper scrubbed a hand over his face, blinking eyelids like a scouring pad over bloodshot eyes. The coffee in the paper cup by his right hand was hours cold, the surface covered with settled dust that Jake ignored as he poured the overly sweet liquid down his throat. He was scraping the sugar sludge out of the bottom of the cup with the end of a chewed up pen when the computer signaled the end of its process with a rude burping noise.

“Does it have to make that noise, Jake?” Marcus King asked from the couch in the corner. King trusted Jake’s skills implicitly but enough details of the warehouse’s real business still needed to be attended to that King felt his time was better spent on site than in his apartment at Wayne Tower.

Jake grinned at the monitor. “You’d prefer the Spice Girls?” He typed in a short series of numbers and turned in his chair. “Do you want to read the message one more time before it goes?” King shook his head. Jake swiveled and hit the enter key. He watched the visual traceroute program on the other monitor as the packets of data hopped from router to router attaching themselves, unseen electronically, to other messages before hopping off to reassemble in the various recipients’ mailboxes. After the first ten messages had been received, Jake felt King’s hand on his shoulder.

“Get some sleep. I need to you to run another security check tomorrow night.” Jake’s eyes flicked back to the monitor, now bright as the clouds continued to play with the day’s light. He smiled as one of the invitations hitched a ride on the back of a piece of spam for herbal viagra. “I mean it, Jake.” King’s already baritone voice as barely more than a growl.

Jake tossed the paper cup into a wastebasket already filled with crumpled fast food wrappers and stumbled toward the door and the elevator that would take him up to the furnished apartment his employer was providing. Marcus King watched the bits of data fly out over the internet and smiled. In a week, the game begins again.

Sunday, 1:23pm, Clocktower training room

Helena grinned at the sweating teenager. “Is that all you’ve got? Didn’t you get enough sleep last night? You’re still growing you know. The proper amount of sleep is very important.” She grinned even wider as Dinah rolled her eyes. Helena ducked the nunchuks that flew off the weapons pegboard behind her. “Now that’s just not playing fair at all,” she grunted, sweeping Dinah’s feet out from under her with a low kick.

Dinah reflexively kicked in her telekinesis to keep herself from hitting the floor with a thud. Helena nodded in admiration at Dinah’s close save. “Smooth, Big D. Very smooth.” Dinah grasped Helena’s outstretched hand, offered to help her to a standing position, and, with a little psychic leverage, flipped the brunette onto her back. Dinah turned her head to look Helena in the eyes and grinned. “And now we’re even for the split eyebrow.” She floated herself to a standing position amid Helena’s laughter. Dinah retrieved the water bottles from the bench by the wall and sat down camp-style across from Helena on the floor. “So, where did you spend the night last night?” she asked, taking a big swig from the water bottle.

“Cut right to the chase, why don’t you,” Helena replied, taking a drink from her own bottle of water. She hoped the blush she felt would be mistaken for exertion from the sparring. Helena smiled broadly as Dinah watched her, eyebrows raised and question still written on her face. “Let’s just say that you should be expecting to see me around a lot more, OK?” Helena cringed against the squeal but wrapped her arms around the teenager in a returned hug just the same. “I should be asking you the same question,” Helena said as the blonde returned to her seated position.

Dinah shook her head. “No great secret. I spent the night at Gabby’s. Barbara said it was fine. Of course,” she said, taking another drink of water, “after your performance on stage last night, she’d have said it was fine if I’d told her I wanted to build a nuclear bomb in the kitchen.” Dinah felt the blush rush to her cheeks even as Helena arched her eyebrow and grinned.

“Maybe I should have asked: what did you spend last night doing to Gabby?” Her grin got wider with the further reddening of the teenager’s face. Helena’s head turned instantly as she heard Barbara calling her name from downstairs. “Don’t think this lets you off the hook, kid,” Helena said, popping up off the mat. “I want details.”

Dinah grinned as she stood. “Oh, you mean like the detail that Barbara’s a redhead everywhere?” She laughed hard as Helena almost stumbled on her way out of the training room.

Sunday, 1:47pm, Clocktower main room

“They sent out about 16 megabytes this morning over a data line the telephone company doesn’t have a record of installing. Now what kind of data would someone be sending out of an unfinished apartment building?” Barbara mused, looking from the monitor to Helena’s face.

Helena shrugged and tried to drag her mind away from the shape of Barbara’s mouth and back to the words that were issuing from between those luscious lips. “The kind that someone wants to keep a secret would be my best guess.” She glanced at the figures and program windows open on the Delphi’s monitor. “Either way, I can’t take a look until after dark.” She grinned at Barbara. “Got anything you want me to do until then?”

“How’s the workout with Dinah going?” Barbara asked, her attention already back on the Delphi’s monitor. She was missing something in the documents, something in the pattern of behavior of the buildings’ owners from city to city. She could see it out of the corner of her eye but the harder she looked the more elusive it became.

Helena stared at Barbara’s profile and shook her head in amazement. It was taking every ounce of self-control she had not to scoop the redhead out of her chair, carry her to the bedroom, and lock the door behind them and yet, there Barbara sat, lost in thought, deep in the tangled web of building ownership and residents’ complaints, completely oblivious to just how sexy she was. And why should she pay any more attention to how much she turns you on now than she did before you slept together? Helena shivered as Barbara’s left hand crept up the inside of her thigh.

“Don’t think just because I’m busy and seem distracted that I don’t want you,” Barbara murmured, not taking her eyes off the monitor. “I want you all the time. I’ve just had more practice at rechanneling than you have.” When she did turn to look at Helena, the smile painting Barbara’s lips was wanton. Barbara’s questing hand bunched the bottom of Helena’s tank top into her fist and pulled down gently. She stretched up and, when she was within reach, Barbara claimed Helena’s mouth. She registered the feeling of Helena’s hand sliding up her arm to come to rest on her neck as the salty taste of sweat and that flavor that was uniquely Helena filled her senses. Barbara smiled at Helena’s moan of pleasure as she slipped her tongue between the brunette’s willing lips.

Dinah crossed her arms and leaned against the balcony rail. She glanced down at her watch. The scene below was the same when she looked back nearly a minute later, only Barbara had her right hand on Helena’s hip and the brunette’s fingers were hopelessly tangled in the crimson fall of Barbara’s hair. Dinah came down the stairs slowly and crossed to the edge of the Delphi’s platform where she stood, tapping her foot.

Barbara was the first to notice her as she broke the kiss and turned slowly to look at the waiting teenager. Dinah had to work hard not to grin at the embarrassment Barbara was trying so hard to hide. “You two are going to have work on that whole being aware of your surroundings thing,” she said, unable to keep the amusement out of her tone.

“Oh, I knew you were there, kid,” Helena retorted, still not taking her eyes off Barbara. “I just didn’t care.” When she did turn to look at Dinah it was all the girl could do not to take an involuntary step back. The eyes Helena presented weren’t her normal deep blue; they were the feral yellow that Dinah had only seen when Helena was extremely emotional, and with Helena that usually meant angry. Since anger wasn’t a remote possibility in this scenario, Dinah’s mind jumped to the only other place it could and she felt the heat rush to her cheeks. “I think I’m gonna go stretch or something,” she sputtered quickly, tucking some hair behind her ear. She turned and took the steps to the training room two at a time, disappearing around the corner at record speed.

The grin Helena turned on Barbara was as feral as her eyes. “Now, where were we?” She leaned in to kiss the redhead again only to be stopped by a strong hand flat on her chest just below her collarbone. She looked down and then back up at Barbara’s face. “We were working,” Barbara replied, putting most of the emphasis on the word ‘we’. She laughed at the petulant look that settled on Helena’s features. Barbara ran her thumb over the full curve of Helena’s lips. “It’s the same as it was when you were 17. Work now, play later. I’ll make it worth the wait.” This last came with a wiggle of Barbara’s eyebrows.

Helena knew better than to get between Barbara and a puzzle that had taken hold of her curiosity so all she could do was groan. “You’re not making this any easier. Now I’m gonna go back in there thinking about how you’re going to make it worth it. That should be fun for the kid.” It was Helena’s turn to laugh as Barbara’s cheeks reddened again. She leaned in and kissed the redhead softly on the cheek. “I love you, Barbara Gordon, don’t ever forget that,” she whispered, lips scant inches from Barbara’s ear.

With that, Helena bounded up the stairs to the second level. Helena’s call for Dinah to get ready to be the mop on the training room floor echoed in her ears as Barbara turned back to the Delphi with a smile. As she opened her own traceroute program and concentrated on tracking the packets of data sent from the warehouse, part of her wondered how it was possible to be so aroused and so at peace at the same time. As she read the data on the flat-screen monitor in front of her Barbara unconsciously snaked out a hand and click on a small desk lamp to compensate for the sun’s disappearance behind another cloud.

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