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Helena walked beside Barbara, slightly ahead of her to clear the way. New Gotham wasn't as big a hellhole as old Gotham you had more to fear from the occasional metahuman than from gangs of roving lunatics. Still, Helena liked being ready to take on any comers before they could get to Babs. Her enhanced senses were acting as eyes in the back of her head, and sizing up everyone else on the sidewalk as potential threats made it easy to tune out Barbara's latest lecture.
"Hel, are you listening to a word I say?"
"Lumpy over there knows how to handle himself in a fight," Helena said, tilting her head towards him. "Wait, I meant, uh modems?"
"Nice try. Damnit, Helena, we can't afford to get sloppy now. With Harlequin down and out, we can keep the mob power vacuum in place for the foreseeable future."
"Yay power vacuum." Helena patted her belly resoundingly. "Can you not talk business for five minutes? Me brawn, you brain. You set 'em up, I knock 'em down. I'd think up more metaphors, but, you know, brawn."
"Dinah has an appreciation for the larger strategic picture and she isn't out of high school yet."
"Dinah has yet to discover the pleasure of sex. I wouldn't hold her up as the paragon of vigilantehood."
"Paragon? You've been holding out on me, brawn-girl."
Barbara circled to a stop next to the bus stop. Helena stubbornly shoved her hands in her pockets, gazed upwards at the bugs circling the streetlamp, counted them, then climbed onto the empty bench and sprawled down its length. Barbara checked her watch, lighting it pale green with a short button-press.
"What kind of superheroes take the bus home from the movies?" Helena asked, tapping her kicky shoes together over the bench's cast-iron armrest.
"The kind who got their car crashed."
"I told you we shouldn't have let Dinah drive."
"She has to learn sometime."
"That's what you said about me and the larger strategic picture," Helena snarked, leaning backwards over the other armrest to look at Barbara upside-down. "And yet here I am, still punching people you tell me to punch."
"The last five were just people who owed me money."
Helena squirmed over the armrest until her torso was suspended in the air with her arms and head on Barbara's wheelchair. Barbara pulled an escrima stick from her purse.
"Don't tempt me. Five largest crime families in Gotham at the moment."
"I'm not good at fill-in-the-blank. Make it multiple choice."
Barbara rested her hand on Helena's stomach, pulling the shirt up just a little and touching the soft underbelly beneath. There was the usual ripple of muscles, as well as the line of X-shaped sutures just above her belly button. That was more recent. Some jabroni had slashed Helena with a butterfly knife on sweeps. And Helena whined about Barbara worrying.
"Okay, multiple choice. Which Pirates of the Caribbean character are you? A. Elizabeth Swann. B. Captain Jack Sparrow. C. Will Turner. Or D. Commodore Norrington?"
"There were that many people in the movies?"
Barbara scratched idly at the rightmost suture, enjoying the obvious tingle Helena was registering. "It's a personality test."
"Do you really need a personality test to get me?" Helena asked, taking hold of Barbara's wrist with one hand and mopping it back and forth over her abdomen. "I'm pretty straightforward. Untroubled."
"Hidden depths?" In conjunction with her words, Barbara glided her hand just under Helena's waistband, feeling the tickle of her pubic hair under her fingertips.
"A sleazy come-on? From you? And I'm the one who needs a personality test?"
"And we go back to the belly button," Barbara said as she did just that.
"Aww." Helena was dismayed, to say the least.
"We're not all exhibitionists."
"We're not all voyeurs either."
"Okay, personality test. Then talk about anything else other than business. Like sex?"
"Sex or bus. The eternal dilemma. Right, let me see if I can remember my SAT prep. Eliminate the most obvious wrong answer. I know I'm not Norrington he was the guy with the wig, right?"
"It took place in the British Empire. There were about fifty people with wigs. But yes."
"And Elizabeth right gender, but she's kind of a girly-girl. So not her. That leaves Will and Jack."
"It's like the Betty or Veronica of our time."
"I'd like to say Jack, even though he's a treacherous screw-up "
"He's a fun treacherous screw-up," Barbara protested, slightly scratching Helena's belly.
"As I was saying, it seems like such a cliché. Besides, that much eye-liner would be a bitch to apply. No, I'm gonna go with Will Turner. He gets the girl in the end, after all."
Barbara blinked in surprise, then took off her glasses to look down into Helena's gaze. "The committed relationship instead of Mr. One Night Stand. Interesting. This personality test is paying for itself."
"Easy to do, when it's free. What about you? You must've put thought into this."
"To be honest?" Barbara leaned down to kiss Helena's forehead, then put her glasses back on. "Sometimes I feel like Cutler Beckett. Moving all the pieces around, staying above it all. And sometimes I feel like Davy Jones."
Helena reached up to push Barbara's glasses up the bridge of her nose. "That would make Dick into Tia Dalma, right?"
"You're underestimating the metaphor."
"Baby, I just wanna get laid. Don't read too much into my sweet-talk."
"If you really wanted to sweet-talk me, you'd be whispering sweet nothings about narcotics traffic statistics into my ear."
"You're bitchy when you're passive-aggressive. Or is it passive-aggressive when you're bitchy? Your psychoanalysis is pointing to you as a real psycho."
"I emphasize, I don't sympathize."
Helena's hand played with her lover's hair, letting it down in front of her shoulders and brushing it over her breasts. If Barbara were a modern-day Eve, the follicles would be just long enough to cover the nipple. It made for a pleasing mental image, although Helena had to wonder who the serpent would be in that garden.
"God knows how many times I've felt like the bad guy. Beat up a thug in front of his kid, run in a domestic dispute with the wife pleading he's really a good guy " Helena rubbed the end of Barbara's hair between her fingers. "You always told me that twinge of conscience was a good thing. Kept us honest. Stopped us from crossing the line. So, what's your moral dilemma this time?"
"The usual. Wiretapping, invasion of privacy, the greater good versus civil rights. The party never stops inside Oracle's conscience."
Helena snuggled further onto Barbara's lap, catching a glance at the road. No cars. The bus was late. Must've been.
"Well, I don't know what difference it makes, but I trust you to do the right thing. Can't think of anyone else I'd like snooping through my internet porn."
"That's because you get off on me watching you." Barbara's voice was low, sexy, dangerous. The Oracle: Phone sex hotline operator to the superheroes.
"You get off on more than watching."
"Don't push it."
"Kidnapped governor's daughter who would do anything to please her captors."
"Oh, the gender issues that raises."
"Nice change of pace from the privacy issues."
"Privacy? I'm wearing your underwear."
"Of course you realize that means I'm going to have to take them back."
"I'd like to see you try."
"I'd like to see you like to see me try."
"Watch closely. Nothing up my sleeves " And, with a quick and subtle motion, Helena was dangling a pair of cotton boy-cut panties from her ring finger.
"Those aren't " Barbara patted down her panty line. "How'd you do that?"
"A magician never reveals her secrets," Helena teased, happily stretching them out between two forefingers.
"Zatanna has definitely been spending too much time around the Clocktower," Barbara groused.
"That would explain Dinah's sudden affinity for fishnet stockings." Helena smelled the panties.
"Okay, that's too creepily voyeuristic even for me. What's taking that bus?"
"When it does get here, you think they'll accept Oracle panties in lieu of payment?"
"You know, Japan has a whole barter economy set up around schoolgirl panties. And the Martian Manhunter."
"I know, I found some on your hard drive."
"Schoolgirl panties?" Helena said innocently.
Around the corner, a bus honked.
"Alright, fun's over. Off my lap and give me back my panties."
"For a minute there you reminded me of my last department store Santa." Helena put the panties on as a sort of Mexican wrestling mask. "I was a very naughty elf."
"You wanted to be a dentist?"
"Oh God, I actually got one of your nerdy references. I think the world is coming to an end. I'm glad I'm wearing your panties for the Apocalypse."
"Funny, Dick used to say the exact same thing. I'm serious. I need those back."
"Oh, alright." Helena wrapped a twenty around the hip strap and then shoved the panties under Barbara's seat. "And I expect to see my money's worth later on."
"And here I thought you didn't know how to invest."
Helena didn't help Barbara up the bus's handicapped-inaccessible staircase except for a discrete shove or two. She kept her eyes out for anyone who might try to attack them while they were vulnerable, while tensing her legs in preparation of running after the bus in case it tried to drive off with Babs. Neither happened. Barbara wheeled her way to the back of the mostyl-empty bus and Helena slumped down next to her after helping her buckle her wheelchair up.
"We are never letting Dinah drive anything again," Helena said as she looked at the sorry condition of the night bus. "Not even the Segway. Possibly not even shoes. I haven't made up my mind."
"As I recall " Barbara rested her head on Helena's shoulder and her hand on Helena's knee. "You crashed the car off a bridge while learning to drive."
"I was trying to chase down a baddie. Dinah was trying to parallel-park." It was still a sore spot, the fact that there was a reason Alfred didn't let Helena drive the Batmobile. Even though it was hers and the bitchingest ride ever and she had sworn to take Barbara's panties off in the backseat on a cool summer night.
"I'm too tired to argue. I'm old and tired, Helena."
"I'll take care of you." Helena grinned. "Who else is going to fall for my underwear steal trick?"
"I'm going to find out how you do that," Barbara yawned.
"In the morning. Catch some shut-eye. I'll wake you when we're home."
Barbara nestled a little closer to Helena and shut her eyes. Helena waited until the redhead had been gently snoring for five minutes before peeling off Barbara's glasses and setting them in a safe place. Everytime the bus stopped to take on new passengers, Helena would scrutinize them for any threat they might pose to Barbara. She wasn't half as concerned as Barbara was with making their stop.
As far as she was concerned, in each other's arms they were already home.
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