DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way shape or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
SEQUEL/SERIES: This story is a sequel to Here's the Rub and Surely, Tomorrow Will Be Better.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Slowly, But Surely
"Hey, you want to go out to dinner with me?"
Helena watched the woman sitting deep in thought at her bank of computers and knew the exact moment the question registered in the redhead's conscious thought.
"Go to dinner, with me." Helena indicated the outside world with the sweep of a hand. "Now?"
"But Hel, I must finish these triangulations, and then I need to mark my seniors' essays on Faust."
"Who the fuck wants to write about Faust?"
"Language, Hel; Dinah's only in the work-out room, she could come out any time, you know."
"Barbara, Barbara, lighten up. Look it's time you got out of this place, you're turning into an old woman before your time, and soon you'll be just like Ms. Simpson. Come on, just do what you want to do for a change."
Barbara looked up sharply at Helena's last statement. It was those exact words of encouragement from the younger woman that had lead to her most recent disastrous attempt at having a relationship. Darcy had been all she could have wanted in a younger girlfriend, except for one thing: she wasn't Barbara looked towards Helena before the thought could take hold, and seeing the puppy dog expression that always pulled at her heart-strings, decided enough was enough.
"Okay, Okay. Just give me a few minutes to close this all down and save a few things. Go watch some inane documentary for, let's say, half an hour."
Helena chuckled to herself. She'd known all along that her hang-dog expression, honed to perfection as a teenager coming home a little later than she should to Barbara's worried comfort, would cause the redhead to give in and take some time away from her work.
The dark-haired woman threw herself over the back of the sofa, switched the large screen HDTV to MTV, and flipped the volume to loud. It was so good to be back in the only place she had ever called home after her mom died. It was so good to be back where Barbara was.
Watching the redhead huffing in indignation, she smiled again, Barbara was nothing except predictable; and yet, she wasn't at all predictable really. Helena had never expected that Barbara would dare to date a younger woman, had never thought that Barbara would follow her advice to take a chance, and now that she knew she would, Helena wanted to experience this new side of Barbara herself.
When she'd said, 'I sometimes wonder if you'd be better off with a woman. You should just do what you want,' she'd sort of hoped that the redhead would finally admit the attraction that was obvious between the two of them, never dreaming the redhead might look elsewhere.
As far as Helena was concerned, the attraction had been there since the day she'd first met Barbara as a young 14 year-old at one of her mom's cocktail parties. Oh, she knew the attraction was one-sided at that time; Barbara was too 'good' to feel anything for a child, and yet, even then, it was as if they were held together by an invisible thread. Selina Kyle had seen the connection and had made sure it continued in the event of her death.
The music washed over Helena as memories of her mom washed over her. Sometimes, she hated the fact that Selina had named Barbara as her guardian; sure that without the added complication, they would've long ago attempted to change their friendship to something more. And yet, at other times, she wondered if her mom was right, if the relationship they had right now was enough. They were together, they were strong, and they were happy. Why spoil things by looking for romance?
"I'll just be another five minutes, Hel. And please, turn that down; I'm sure you're not listening to a word they screech."
Helena laughed out loud at Barbara's muttered words as she departed.
"You never did."
Watching the woman wheel away, her red hair flowing down the back of her chair, and seeing in her mind's eye the flashing green eyes alight with humour, Helena knew the answer to her question. She wanted Barbara; all of Barbara. The jealousy that had torn at her heart, at Barbara dating Darcy, was just extra proof of how strong her desire was for the older woman.
Across the hall in Barbara's bedroom, the redhead slowly changed into something a little dressier, all the time wondering what she had let herself in for. Slowly, but surely, Helena had been creeping under her skin, and if she was honest with herself, it had been a slow inexorable pull since the day they'd met. Oh, back then, for her at least, there had been nothing but a knowledge that they were built of the same cloth drawing them closer and closer, although she'd guessed, even then, as a 14 year-old, Helena had had the 'hots' for her.
But then, when The Joker made his mark, Barbara had just assumed that Helena's lust would die a quick death at her so viciously enforced disability, especially with the added complication of Barbara having to become a surrogate parent, playing the bad guy to Helena's teenage years. Lately, however, there had been signs that Helena's attraction hadn't died, that it was still there, glowing brightly in their togetherness.
Barbara glanced at the beautiful woman lounging lazily on her sofa and smiled ruefully. She had to admit that over the years, Helena's growing maturity coupled with their increased connection through being controlled vigilantes - or was that controlled Superheroes, she was never sure - had firmly cemented their connection to a point that it was as strong as it had ever been. Now, and only now, was she beginning to accept that she was also attracted to the young woman as something more than a friend.
Sighing, she wheeled out to drag Helena away from the TV to their little place downtown.
Later, much later, as the sun began to set, the two women stared at each other over plates of seafood specials and two very nearly empty glasses of wine. Almost at the same time, they chuckled. It had been a wonderful few hours of gentle, friendly conversation, accentuated by loving warm glances, and, as the hours and the wine had passed, a night of some chaste, beautiful flirting.
Helena smiled towards Barbara and said, "See, Babs, I told you; you needed to let go a little. You're so beautiful when you just lighten up. Perfect."
The last word was the barest of whispers, but Barbara heard it clearly.
"Darcy was a fool to let you go without a fight, you know."
The redhead chuckled ruefully. "Yeah, she was, but she wasn't a complete fool; she just knew she couldn't compete."
Helena's eyes shot open at Barbara's comment, and her response was immediate.
"Compete? I don't understand, Babs. Compete with who, with what?"
Seeing the hope suddenly flare in her companion's eyes, Barbara realized, for her, she'd said too much, and she immediately started to back-track.
"She just couldn't compete with this " she indicated the two of them, and then swept it around, as if indicating the city, " with all of this, Hel, you know."
"No, I don't, Barbara. I don't know."
Calling the waiter across to pay their check, Barbara effectively prevented Helena from taking things further. Changing the conversation track to thoughts about a new sweep pattern for Helena and Dinah, Barbara also managed to stop any further questions from Helena on their return trip to the clock tower.
On leaving the elevator, Barbara turned to her friend and grasped hold of her hand, saying, "Thanks for being a wonderful diversion, Helena. You were right; it was just what I needed."
"It's never a problem to spend time with you, Barbara, you know that. Maybe we could do it again sometime soon."
"Yeah, I'd like that. Thank you."
Barbara tugged on their joined hands, pulling Helena's lips towards her own, but just as Helena caught a taste of the woman she desired, Barbara turned her head slightly to brush her lips over the younger woman's cheek.
She whispered against the younger woman's ear, "Thank you for being my friend, Helena, I'll see you tomorrow."
Helena sighed outwardly as Barbara wheeled away; her words said purposefully loud enough that Barbara should have heard.
"I don't want to be your friend, Barbara."
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