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.
All these years and I've never asked before. Never wanted to know I
suppose. When someone disappears in this business, there are two common
explanations, both of them equally distasteful as far as I'm concerned:
get sick of it all, marry, settle down and have two-point-five kids, or
get killed. By all accounts, the second option is by far the more common
one, though there are a few who've managed the first. For her sake, I
suppose I hoped it was the former. Being the practical soul I am, I
figured it was probably the latter.
So why was it I slipped and asked Oracle? On the verge of winding up
dead myself, and there I was asking if she---Batgirl, not the
new, silent model, but the original one with a one-liner for every
situation, fire engine red hair and a body that was made for sin, no
matter how thoroughly "good" she might be---was alive or dead,
and trying desperately to sound like I didn't care.
Even you aren't that good a liar, Selina.
And neither was Oracle. She stumbled on that one, barely even got the
word, "retired," out. There was a definite pause and that
perfectly modulated, mechanical voice wasn't quite so controlled for
just a second. I threw her with that one, hit some kind of hot button.
But if Batgirl were simply retired, why the emotional upset, and if she
was dead, why lie?
It didn't occur to me until now that there might be a third option.
The woman in the wheelchair. Red hair, green eyes, jaw a little too
strong, body on the delicate side, but lithe and firmly muscled. Looked
like she's added a couple of inches in height since the first time we
met, though it was such a quick look, and a wheelchair isn't exactly
conducive to making such judgments, so it's hard to be certain.
Dammit. How the hell can she move that fast in a chair? Not something
new in her life, that's for certain.
There she is---down on the street.
Is it really....
Or am I just imagining things?
And why do you care anyway, Selina? It's just this nastiness with
Valerie Lewton bringing up old memories. Ones better left forgotten by
all involved. Guilt has never set well on your shoulders ... and she
just brings up far too much of it ... despite any more ... pleasant ...
memories. Dammit, if she actually is taller, then how the hell young was
she when I....
Great, more guilt. What cradle did I rob?
Doubtless, she doesn't remember me with anything approaching
fondness. I should just walk away from this one.
Gotta love an open window, even if getting it that way requires a bit
of broken glass, but if I move fast enough, I can get a better look
before she's across the street.
Being an idiot here, Selina. If it was her, she was probably just
there because she guessed they were the paintings from Ryder Burnham's
collection. Maybe she was curious about why they suddenly showed up for
no apparent reason ... or maybe Oracle told her. Yeah, that would make
sense. Probably why Oracle was creeped out. Who knows, maybe they're
friends, and she was trying to protect her from the big bad, kitty kat.
I wonder if she knows the truth? No. If Oracle knew the truth, she'd
probably have let me go splat somewhere along the way, instead of
helping me stay alive. And, hell, who could blame her. I'm under no
illusions. If she were my friend or family, I'd probably want me dead.
Certainly if it was her, she couldn't have realized it was me she
spoke to ... couldn't have been there because....
Perhaps because if she had known, she probably would have called the
cops, started beating on me, done something, not just chatted in that
absently friendly way strangers sometimes do.
Walk away, Selina, just walk away.
Dammit, is it her? Gotta move faster, gain some ground and get a
Oh God. I shouldn't recognize a profile I haven't laid eyes on in
years ... shouldn't be able to so easily pluck out features that have
matured from youthful softness into adult beauty. I knew even then that
one day she'd be striking. I don't think I ever guessed just how
stunning she'd turn out.
I doubt she suspects I'm following. Though she's cautious, it's more
the care of someone who knows that some people might view them as an
easy mark, rather than a directed fear. It's good enough to deal with
the average mugger ... not me.
Dammit, Selina, you shouldn't do this. You're just asking for more
Her car's a Hummer. Now that's unique. License plate number EWF-261.
Now what the hell do I do?
Oh hell, Selina, you know exactly what you're going to do. You always
know, even when you don't want to.
* * * * * *
Once More Into the Breach
Barbara Gordon cursed softly as she dropped her car keys in the
process of raising the lift so she could get into the Hummer. She looked
down, hoping they'd caught on the lift platform, but they'd slid between
a crack in the steel slats, dropping all the way to the ground. Clearly,
she was feeling a bit distracted because she hadn't made a mistake that
dumb in ages. In her case, dropping things like that meant she'd have to
lower the platform, raise it and return it to storage position again to
retrieve them, then start all over again.
"Could you use some help with that?" Lazily asked, the
words---or more correctly, the voice that pronounced them---sent a
shiver over her skin that was one part warning, one part awareness. She
looked up, eyes widening as a slender figure leaned comfortably against
the side of the Hummer, arms loosely folded across her chest, the look
in her eyes somewhere between assessing and challenging. Somehow she'd
managed to arrive unnoticed and arrange herself into that languid pose
in the second or two while Barbara was focused on her keys.
A faint smile touched full lips while green eyes slid over Barbara
from head to toe with the kind of confidence that few people---if
any---could manage, then rose and clashed with her gaze. Selina's hair
was shorter now and time had left its mark, but she was a stunning woman
and undoubtedly would be until the day she died. Barbara had seen a
recent picture of course, but the images gleaming on her computer
monitor hadn't done reality any justice. Beautiful as she'd been the
first time they'd met, Selina was somehow even more striking now. Still
wildly charismatic, but there was also something in her eyes that showed
a kind of depth her younger self had lacked.
Barbara swallowed hard, trying to quiet the sudden, startled
throbbing of her pulse. "I'm fine," she responded
automatically, very uncomfortable with the way the woman had suddenly
appeared. The impulse to make an appearance at the showing---and worse
to speak to Selina---suddenly seemed very dangerous indeed. Had the
other woman figured something out? It seemed unlikely her sudden
appearance was pure coincidence.
Cat's eyes dropped to the lost keys where they resided under the
wheelchair platform, and a dark eyebrow arched suggestively.
"Really it's no problem," Selina drawled, that rich, evocative
voice sliding over Barbara in seductive waves, leaving the redhead
wondering about her own sanity. She should have known better. Should
have stayed the hell away, but some inner need to ... what ... win ...
prove something after all these years ... something ... hadn't let her
stick to the sane path and steer clear of this woman.
Barbara hit the control to lower the platform back to the ground,
ignoring any temptation by reminding herself just how dangerous the
thief could be, and how little she could be trusted. "I can do it
for myself," she ground out, summoning any righteous anger she
could lay claim to in an effort resist the sweet draw of the other
woman's automatically seductive tones.
"I never suggested otherwise," Selina murmured, her voice
soft with only the tiniest bit chiding. She reached out, hitting the
button to stop the platform before it had gone more than an inch or two
in its journey back to the ground. "Only that maybe a little help
would make it easier." As the redhead looked up, Selina offered
another gentle smile. "We all need a little help now and
then." Even her, and Selina was the most stubborn, independent
person that Selina Kyle knew, though she suspected the woman in front of
her ran a close second.
"No thank you," Barbara ground out, and reached for the
control again. She pulled up short as Selina abruptly bent down,
thrusting her hand under the wheelchair platform to reach for the keys.
As the dark haired woman straightened, the key ring hooked over her
index finger, Barbara sputtered angrily, "Do you realize that this
system is hydraulic? If I'd hit the controls, you could have gotten your
hand pinned under there. It might have broken something before I got it
Selina held the keys out, a lazy smile curving her lips. "I have
quick hands," she drawled, something glittering deep in her eyes.
"And even if I didn't, I don't think you'd let anything happen to
"How very trusting of you," Barbara said a bit too
brightly, opting to take another tack as she struggled to paste a
somewhat dimwitted mask in place. Like any cat, Selina only got more
interested when faced with a challenge. Better to play dumb even if it
went against the grain.
"Hardly that," Selina disagreed, her eyebrow rising a
little higher, not buying the act. The chirpy, cheerleader voice was
particularly ineffective since she knew just how intense and intelligent
those honey smooth tones could sound. "But I'm generally a pretty
good judge of character ... and I don't think you're the sort to
intentionally cause unnecessary pain."
"Fine then," Barbara said, not knowing what to think and
suddenly questioning her ability to deal with this woman. Yes, she was
older and wiser, but so was Selina. As Oracle, she might have managed to
outwit Catwoman by getting the artwork as promised, despite the other
woman's efforts to pull a bait and switch. She was, however, under no
illusions that that meant she was up for playing the game on a more
personal level. "Thank you for your help," she said and
reached for the keys only to have the other woman snatch them back
before she could grab them.
Selina's smile was taunting as she watched the other woman, easily
seeing the anger that flared in green eyes. Good to see that the
wheelchair hadn't dampened her spirit. It would have been a damn shame
for anything to extinguish that fire. "I prefer expressions of
gratitude in a more physical form." She saw black pupils expand
until there was only the tiniest ring of jade around their inky depths
and purposely waited a beat, stretching out the moment, letting the
expectation build. Her smile broadened a notch into a knowing sensual
look that promised all sorts of things. "Take me to lunch,"
she said softly, the words coming out somewhere between a command and an
Barbara froze, caught by surprise, hands clenched on the armrests of
her chair, breath coming quick and shallow. For just a moment, she'd
expected. Something. Else.
Selina's arch expression broadcast loud and clear that she knew
exactly what Barbara had been thinking. A feline smile on her lips, she
leaned down, braced her hands on the armrests of the wheelchair, almost
but not quite touching slender fingers, and pressed into the other
woman's space. "Or we can jump straight to dessert if you
Barbara's brain spontaneously shut down, leaving her sitting there,
her mouth working, but no sound forthcoming. Slender hands clenched on
the armrests of her chair as her cheeks turned a fire engine shade of
red and shallow breathing turned to no breathing at all. What the hell
was it about Selina Kyle that constantly threatened to turn her into a
fumbling child when normally she was so goddamned competent she scared
the hell out of superheroes and world leaders alike. "I really
should be going," she said at last, her voice little more than a
strangled croak, her eyes focused anywhere but on the woman grinning at
her so knowingly, and without acknowledging the offer or its
implications. Better to just get the hell out of there.
"Afraid?" Selina challenged.
Barbara froze, looking up until her gaze clashed with the other
woman's. Nothing like a dare to tweak her stubborn streak. "Should
I be?" she rasped, her tone becoming every bit as challenging.
Cat green eyes narrowed faintly. The little girl had grown up. Not so
trusting now. Selina deliberately softened her voice, her tone more
serious, and leaned just a little closer. "No ... not at all."
She pulled her arms back and let them drop to her sides, tempted to
reach out, but well aware the other woman would bolt if pushed that
hard. "I was just teasing," she insisted, purposely backing
down. "You've nothing to fear from me." She took a breath,
backing up a step, carefully putting distance between them. It was just
too tempting to play with the other woman, particularly when she could
see her own reflection in inky pupils, and smell the soft perfume haze
that floated around her. "I'm just inviting you to lunch ... in a
very public place." She held up the car keys, then tossed them back
to their rightful owner. "No strings attached."
Startled by the gesture, Barbara snatched the keys out of mid-air at
the last moment, then froze, momentarily caught by the look in the other
woman's eyes. "I shouldn't," she breathed almost inaudibly. It
was too dangerous. Selina Kyle was too dangerous. She was
relatively realistic about who would come out the winner in any kind of
competition between the two of them, and with their respective natures,
it was a competition---like it or not. The problem was that she was also
incredibly curious about why Selina was there---what she knew, what she
might have guessed, what she was doing. And most of all, what she
Selina's smile broadened as she accurately read the temptation in the
other woman's eyes. She was curious now, and more than that, challenged.
"Live dangerously for once," she drawled, sensing a nature not
so different from her own in some ways, though it was far more contained
and controlled. "And while you're at it ... be kind to someone who
just offered you a hand. I've had a few ... setbacks lately. I could use
something to take my mind off of them." The game being played
between them made her feel more alive than she'd felt in months. She
didn't want it to end and go back to a lonely apartment or sneak into
bed with a lover she didn't love.
Barbara just stared up at Selina for a long moment. The other woman
had turned the charm all the way up, but at the same there was something
serious lurking in green eyes, a sense of loss that only increased her
unpredictable appeal. Even knowing what she was, it made it that much
harder to resist her. "Really?" she murmured, trying to sound
disinterested and unaware without much success. "What kind?"
"Personal ... financial ... any number of things," Selina
said softly, not wanting to think about the madness with the youth
center or her sister. Valerie Lewton's attempts to kill her had been the
least of her problems in the last few months. She looked away, her gaze
momentarily distant as she remembered her sister Maggie--- now very
probably in an insane asylum for the rest of her life.
Barbara frowned, startled by the way seriousness turned to soul deep
sadness. The emotion flickered for a moment before being hidden behind
high walls. If it was an act, it was a phenomenal one. It caught her by
surprise, driving her to ask, "What happened?" She hadnít
really kept track of the other woman of late, well aware that that had
become Bruceís particular passion, and feeling oddly uncomfortable
with their come and go relationship. But what she saw now wasn't a
matter of losing a few paintings. Unless Selina was an even better
actress than Barbara would have predicted, it was something far more
personal, something that had hit hard and cut deep. She suddenly found
herself regretting that sheíd backed away and hadnít kept closer
track of the woman in recent years, but sheíd figured Bruce was doing
more than enough of that for both of them.
Selina shrugged, her gaze returning to Barbara. "Join me for
lunch ... and I'll answer any questions you want." She reached up,
ruffling her hair, then sighed softly. "Not necessarily
truthfully," she admitted in a rare burst of honesty, "but
I'll answer them." She offered a lopsided smile.
For reasons she didn't care to look at too closely, Barbara couldn't
resist the quiet entreaty. Without saying a word, she reached out and
hit the control to lower the chair back to the ground. "There's a
Thai place about a block from here that's pretty good," she said as
she rolled the chair off the lift platform, then locked things up.
Selina stepped up as if to push the chair, noted the lack of handles,
and dropped her hands to her sides.
Barbara looked up, noting the gesture and raised an eyebrow.
"There are no handles for a reason." Her eyes flashed, warning
the other woman off in case she was thinking of grabbing hold and
pushing. "I don't need help with my chair."
It took a beat for Selina to process the sharply uttered words, but
when she did, she held up a hand in surrender."Of course not,"
she soothed, thinking it only made sense. She remembered Batgirl as a
headstrong little thing, half a head shorter than the rest of the world,
but stubbornly independent and totally uncowed. Clearly some things
Barbara's gaze momentarily dropped away, a flush sliding over her
cheekbones as it occurred to her that she'd gotten a bit aggressive.
"Sorry," she whispered as though she wasn't talking to
Catwoman. "It's my personal space, y'know ... and people sometimes
... they get pushy ... just assume they have the right."
"Point taken," Selina said softly. "No assumptions
from here on out." The look in her eyes was serious, indicating she
got the message. She understood the need for independence all too well.
To mock the need in someone else would have been far too hypocritical
for her tastes.
By the time they were seated, Selina had pushed off the momentary
bout of depression and gotten her walls of denial back in place with a
firm hand. Even so, when green eyes flashed her way, their expression
curious, it was tempting to just dump the whole sorry story of the last
year of her life. She found herself wondering about the other woman's
name, and whether or not she knew just who she was talking to ... and
did she ever think about that night. No, it couldn't be. If she knew,
she'd probably be anywhere but there ... which left the thief wondering
why the hell the woman who had been Batgirl was here. Then again, she
wasn't too sure of her own reasons, so maybe the redhead was just as
drawn and just as confused. She gnawed on her lower lip, trying to think
of something witty or clever to say, but her usual rapier wit seemed to
have deserted her to the degree that she was grateful for the waitress
that suddenly appeared to take their orders. When the woman left again,
Selina looked up to find the redhead watching her closely, so
concentrated she could almost see the gears turning behind green eyes.
"Sooo," Barbara drawled at last, curiosity getting the
better of her, "why the sudden invitation to a total
Selina shrugged, lying and not lying at the same time as she
responded, "Sometimes it's easier to be with strangers than people
you know." One hand rose in a small, seemingly relaxed gesture.
"No pressure." Except judging by the tight, twist of tension
in the pit of her belly there was plenty of pressure. She was human
enough to wonder what the hell she was doing, and Selina enough not to
care too much about the answer beyond the obvious. "Besides. Her
eyes slid appreciatively over the redhead's face and upper body, "I
always enjoy the company of a beautiful woman."
Intensely aware of the flush that slid over her skin, Barbara's
breath momentarily caught. "I'm not--" she started to deny the
charge, but Selina cut her off, her voice a rolling drawl.
"Not beautiful?" the brunette interrupted, then offered a
lazy smile, feeling more comfortable playing to her default sensuality
than she would have dealing with more honest emotion. Seductive
sexuality was easy, slipping around her like a second skin, allowing her
to control the situation when she might not have otherwise. "I beg
The look in Selina's eyes only intensified the blush, reminding
Barbara of any number of things she shouldn't have even wanted to
remember. "I'm starting to think the only problem you could
possibly have is an overabundance of hormones," Barbara murmured
tartly. The flinch she received in response was no reward. In fact, she
was surprised to find that it almost hurt.
Selina offered a tight smile, tempted to snap and list her losses in
an attempt to explain just why she wanted to just escape for a little
while. A waitress brought the tea before she could say anything, buying
her time to slam an emotional wall into place between herself and the
woman across the table. This, she realized in an instant, was a very bad
idea. This woman played on her mind and emotions in ways she couldn't
afford, and she should have resisted temptation and stayed away.
Unfortunately, resisting temptation had never been an art form at which
she excelled. "You think wrong," she said at last, and looked
up. She didn't mean to say that, had seriously planned on some equally
sarcastic reply. Except she couldn't stop thinking of Maggie ... in a
very nice institution ... very probably for the rest of her life. So
when she opened her mouth, the wrong words just came out. Not the
flippant, don't give a fuck Selina she was used to showing the world,
but something of the human being underneath ... the one she'd long tried
to deny even existed. She half expected to hear laughter from the other
woman, but the response was softly spoken.
Freezing as though she'd been struck, Barbara couldn't take her eyes
away from the agony visible in rich, green eyes. Whatever she'd thought,
she was wrong. Nobody could fake that much emotion. Could they?
"I'm sorry," she stammered at last. She couldn't help but
wonder at her own sanity in believing the mournful expression on the
other woman's face. Selina Kyle was, after all, a superb actress, quite
capable of playing her targets with all the skill of a master harpist.
Even knowing that, she didn't think it was an act. The look in those
eyes was too hollow, the pain too real. "What happened?" She
couldn't believe she was sitting there asking such a prosaic question of
a woman who'd cheerfully stolen her way through life, and wrought more
than her fair share of havoc in Barbara's life, and the lives of people
she cared for.
Selina considered the question for a long moment, trying to find a
way to describe what had happened that wouldn't give away her identity
if the other woman didn't already know, but would catch the emotional
flavor of what she was feeling. "Have you ever tried to do the
right thing," she said at last, "only to have it come out all
wrong?" She'd tried to change herself, reach out to family, make
things a little better, and somehow it was all even worse now. Selina
was surprised by the sympathy she heard in the redhead's voice when she
"Yeah." Barbara leaned forward, eyes sliding closed as she
massaged her temple, remembering the brief, disastrous working
relationship with Power Girl. She'd screwed up the mission, and made an
enemy of someone toward whom she bore no malice. Despite her best
efforts to help, people had died and Karen had wound up in worse shape
emotionally and hating her guts just to add the cherry on top. "A
few times." She blinked, pushing the memory back down, though the
hint of depression it always engendered stayed with her when she looked
up again. "Tried to do something to help only to have it blow up in
"Then you know," Selina whispered, eyes dropping to focus
on her tea, surprised by the sense of camaraderie she felt for her
former ... foe? No, that wasn't the right word. They'd both played the
games, and mostly on opposite sides, but there'd never been any hate. Or
at least none on her side, and she hoped none on the other woman's.
Barbara looked up, uncertain what to make of the sense of affinity
with the other woman. "Yeah," she said very softly. "Too
well." She looked down, studying her the swirling patterns in the
surface of her tea with the sort of attention she usually reserved for
debugging computer code. This was ... she didn't even know how to
quantify it. Uncomfortable, strange, alien, disconcerting? Her brain
kept coming up with assorted synonyms, but none of them were quite right
for the situation. Then something warm and soothingly heavy was settling
over her hand---Selina's hand---while a gentle thumb---faintly callused
from years of the gymnastics required by her chosen career---stroked
Barbara's knuckles lightly. The redhead looked up, a hint of a frown
drawing her brows together as she stared at the hand covering her own.
Larger and heavier, it nonetheless was fine boned with an impossible to
miss sort of grace.
"You want to talk about it?" The question was quietly
asked, the tone reading as sincere with just a hint of worry mixed in.
Which only left Barbara even more confused by her own emotions.
Seeing Selina Kyle as human was almost frightening in a way, like having
some larger than life movie character step off the screen and introduce
themselves. Incredibly aware of the thumb moving slowly back and forth
over the rise of her knuckles. It was tempting to just dump a thousand
different fears ... to admit to things she'd never told anyone, like the
nightmares that had tormented her since childhood, the text of the
horrifying dreams ever-changing, but their presence a constant, or the
self doubts that plagued her on an ongoing basis---the failures and the
fear of failure. For just a moment, she had the strangest sense that
Selina would understand even better than Barbara herself did. She shook
off the impulse before it could override common sense. "No,"
she said at last, then risked a look up through thick lashes.
Selina reared back ever so slightly before she managed to check the
impulse. She shook her head too quickly, then regained control over that
response as well. "No," she said very softly when she finally
A long moment of uncomfortable silence followed, and then Selina
cleared her throat, paused another moment, then began carefully,
"So which painting was your favorite?" she asked at last,
figuring that was reasonably neutral territory. Okay, so there were
probably issues having to do with those paintings, but not with the
actual quality of them.
Barbara accepted the subject change with a hint of a wry smile. There
were definitely time when distraction was a good thing. She thought
about it for a moment, then responded, "The Vermier I think."
"Ah ... a woman who loves the masters ... it is quite stunning.
I thought the play of light was particularly impressive. You'd almost
have sworn there was a candle behind the canvas...."
"But not really your thing," Barbara murmured, noting the
rather flat commentary. She glanced down, considering the swirling
reflection visible in her teacup. "I'd guess you more for the
Gauguin," she said at last, looking up through thick lashes.
The quiet certainty in the other woman's voice surprised Selina. No
small trick. "I'm impressed," she admitted, one eyebrow rising
high on her forehead. "How'd you know."
"You strike me as someone who'd prefer the style of the
impressionists ... something fast and bright ... and there's a
sensuality to the Gauguin that I can see you...." She abruptly
realized what she'd been about to say and trailed off, a dark flush
flooding her cheeks.
Selina leaned forward, a slow smile making its way across her mouth.
"Yes?" she drawled, her eyes gleaming bright with
"I just meant..." Barbara started to explain only to trail
off, the words unspoken, her cheeks flaming red now. She couldn't
exactly explain that it was the erotic nature of the painting that
convinced her it would be Selina's favorite. "It just seemed like
the one you'd like the most."
Even if it hadn't been, Selina would have lied and said it was, but
as it happened, she did prefer the Gauguin---and had since first
stealing the collection. "Well, you're right ... and your reasons
are remarkably on target," she added, offering a smile that was
part praise, part invitation.
Quickly looking down again to escape that knowing smile, Barbara had
a hard time maintaining any kind of concentration as a whole field of
butterflies decided to take up residence in her stomach. It was
Barbara's turn to be intensely grateful as their waitress made another
appearance---with food this time---the interruption giving her a much
needed moment to compose herself. By the time the waitress left and they
were alone again, she was back in control.
After that, the conversation was somewhat more stately, as though
they'd both skated too close to the edge of a high cliff---and knew it.
If asked, both women would have admitted to being surprised by how
enjoyable the discussion that randomly floated from topic to topic was
more enjoyable than they would have predicted. There was some regret
when the restaurant owner finally began making noises about needing the
table for the dinner crowd.
"I probably should be going," Barbara said softly as she
glanced at her watch and noted the time. She really hadn't meant to be
away from the clocktower and the Delphi all afternoon.
Finding herself less than eager to lose the other woman's company,
Selina fell into step beside her. "I'll walk you back to your
Barbara glanced up, felt her pulse spin back into overdrive. God, how
did the woman do that her with just one look? It was
frightening---almost painful it was so intense. Somehow the notion of
going back to her car---alone---away from the unknowingly chaperoning
crowd that had gathered in the small restaurant---scared the ever-loving
hell out of her. She wasn't even entirely certain why. After all, her
car was parked in a perfectly public parking lot. It wasn't like
anything could happen there. And yet.... "Really, it's not
"I know," Selina said softly without altering her path or
the speed of her stride.
"I know," Selina said firmly, then slanted a look at the
other woman. "Don't you get that I want to?"
The question caught Barbara by surprise, and she didn't know quite
what to say for a long moment. "I just ... I ... can't quite ...
believe...." She fell silent, looking anywhere but at the woman
keeping pace next to her.
Selina glanced over at Barbara again, felt her own pulse do a few
superhuman riffs. God, what an evil trick of fate---almost fitting
considering her history---but she wanted, and a shared lunch had only
increased the intensity of the impulse. They reached the blocky,
ugly-as-they-come Humvee much too soon for her taste, and she watched
the other woman move to unlock things. "What about dessert?"
she asked before she could think better of it and saw slender shoulders
tense in response.
Barbara froze, reacting like a rabbit in the field when it knew the
wolf's eyes were on it. She barely resisted the animal instinct to
hunker down and make herself smaller in a vain attempt to escape the
predator stalking her.
"I offered it before ... I'm offering again," Selina
murmured, not letting her escape that easily.
No doubt what Selina meant by that comment---the low, husky drawl she
affected made it as plain as the most explicit offer made down at the
corner bar---and it wasn't chocolate ťclairs, though Barbara suspected
chocolate sauce wouldn't be out of the question. A shiver slid through
her as her recalcitrant brain conjured an image a pink tongue lapping up
dark chocolate syrup dribbled onto her skin in erotic patterns. The
redhead suddenly couldn't have said a word if her life depended on it.
She took a moment to catch her breath, then looked over her shoulder as
she finally managed to summon some semblance of a glare.
Selina raised an eyebrow, unimpressed by the spitting kitten act,
though she rather enjoyed the way jade green eyes sparked like cold
"Never been a big dessert eater," Barbara said rather
primly. A bite of lunch together was one thing---a little risky perhaps,
but something she'd needed to satisfy her curiosity. Whatever Selina was
proposing now, it was way past risky and well into serious danger
territory. There was history there---of the perilous variety---better
for both of them to just run away before somebody got hurt. The irony of
that thought struck her even as it went through her brain.
"Mmm," Selina murmured and leaned down, one hand curling
around the armrest of the chair, bringing it around as she pressed into
the other woman's space, her hot breath playing over the redhead's face,
her voice barely above a whisper. "You should try it sometime ...
best part of the meal."
Barbara jerked a hand off the armrest, lifting it between them, but
didn't quite make contact with the other woman's chest. Instead her hand
hovered in the space between their bodies, not touching, but close
enough to feel the heat pouring off Selina Kyle's skin. "Not very
healthy," Barbara croaked, painfully aware of the way her heart was
suddenly hammering against the inside of her ribcage. Even knowing she
should do something, activate the alarm on her chair, run like hell,
start pounding on Selina with an escrima stick---or maybe all of the
above---she found herself simply staring into green eyes. She suddenly
understood what a bird felt in the moments before a cat pounced.
"But very tasty," Selina breathed, then let her eyes drop,
her gaze running over the slender body sitting upright in the
wheelchair. Despite her injuries---whatever they were---she was in
superb shape, every curve fit and sculpted. "And you look like you
could afford a dessert or two," the brunette added, her tone openly
admiring. She'd been good all the way through lunch---well, mostly good
anyway---but she'd just about hit her limit. The real Selina Kyle---the
one who was far too quick to leap into trouble---was eager to get out
and have a little fun. She'd been quiet for months, but something about
the redhead called to her. Maybe it was the memory of that shared past,
and those moments that summoned a strange combination of shame and
"No," Barbara said softly, reminding herself that this
wasn't real, just some strange impulse on Selina Kyle's part, coupled
with some weird attraction she still had to the woman, "I
can't." She had Dick, and despite any problems between them, that
was real. This was just---just a momentary flight of fancy. The raised
hand finally made contact with Selina's chest and she pushed firmly. For
a moment, she thought she'd succeeded as the thief backed off under the
pressure, and then Selina abruptly froze, unwilling to be pushed any
Unable to resist temptation---no surprise there, resisting temptation
had never exactly been Selina Kyle's middle name---Selina lifted a hand
to brush a few strands of crimson silk back from the other woman's
cheek. She let the delicate threads slide over her fingers, enjoying the
texture. "So serious," she whispered, the look in her eyes a
direct challenge. "So scared...."
Barbara tensed, suddenly wondering if maybe she should be worried.
Catwoman had mostly stayed out of legal trouble for awhile now, but with
her history, one never knew what she might come up with.
Selina saw the flicker of real fear, wondered whether it was of
her---or Catwoman more specifically---or just the very rational fear of
some strange woman being so sexually aggressive out of the blue. Did
this woman still track the game she'd once played, or was she far enough
out of the loop that she wouldn't know Selina Kyle from a hole in the
ground? "I'd never hurt you," she breathed, and then
temptation presented itself once again, and she was no better at
resisting its siren's song than ever before. Soft lips parted, a pink
tongue slipping out to moisten them, and Selina tracked the gesture, her
most predatory instincts triggered. No, resisting temptation wasn't her
thing at all, she thought as she leaned closer and tasted, drinking in
the soft gasp as she took advantage of already parted lips, darting her
tongue into warmth and heat. She stole the kiss with the same skill and
confidence she'd used in any number of break-ins over the years,
burgling soft lips just as successfully as she had jewels and diamonds.
The hand braced on her chest pushed harder, but she ignored the pressure
and caught the second hand that rose to join the first, dragging it up
around her shoulder to the back of her neck. Strong fingers found the
hair at the nape of her neck, twining into the thick strands to pull
with considerable strength in an effort to drag her back. Selina only
deepened the kiss until the grip on her hair shifted, no longer fighting
to pull her away even if it wasn't trying to drag her closer.
For her part, Barbara couldn't breathe, her lungs suddenly impossibly
tight, her heart thundering in her chest. Her fingers worked their way
deeper into impossibly soft black hair, while the scent of something
sweet and floral filled her senses along with the flavor of breath mints
and warm flesh. The hand that had been wrapped around her own moved on,
stroking her down the length of her arm, up her neck and shoulder, and
finally finding her cheek, the light caress leaving her skin so
sensitive she imagined she could feel the whorls of the other woman's
fingerprints. She knew she should yank her head back, scream, hit Selina,
do something, and yet, there she was---yet again---her mouth open for an
invading kiss, her body vibrating in unfamiliar ways. No, not completely
unfamiliar this time, but long forgotten---or perhaps, more
realistically, purposely unremembered. It wasn't that she was a total
stranger to passion in her life, but it hadn't exactly been a dominant
force before the shooting and since ... well ... since ... since then,
she'd finally accepted that physical passion wasn't much of an option.
She enjoyed making love with Dick. He was tender and caring, and being
with him was comfortable. They'd been friends so long that becoming
lovers felt safe. She thought she'd accepted that the physical pleasure
for her came from simply feeling close to someone, from the sense of
being loved and cared for.
As heat coiled and pulsed, bringing life back to parts of her body
she'd thought lost, she realized she'd misjudged everything. Dear god,
how did this woman do this to her, make her feel in spite of what she
wanted or intended ... make her ache, and want, and dream, and throb? It
was like Selina Kyle had managed to get a tiny purchase on her soul all
those years before, and she'd somehow clung to that tenuous hold, and
even found a way of strengthening it.
A moan bubbled up from Barbara's chest, her fingers cramping as she
clung more tightly to silky hair, the hand on Selina's chest shifting
and curling into the front of her jacket.
"Hey, why doncha get a room?!" Coarse and loud, the rude
question broke over the two women.
Barbara would have jerked back, but Selina kept a firm hand on the
arm of her chair as she broke the kiss and straightened. Eyes narrowing
into a regal glare, she did a slow pivot, nailing speaker in place.
Scrawny, no more that twenty-five, his face pock marked by acne scars,
his eyes full of stomach-turning fantasies. "Why don't you get a
life," she suggested, her voice sharp enough to slice steel.
His eyes narrowed and she saw his lips move as he uttered an
insult---or at least what he clearly considered to be an insult---under
For her own sake, Selina couldn't have cared less. With the things
she'd done in her life, she'd long since become inured to petty outrage,
but the woman in the chair---she probably felt such things rather
acutely. And besides, Selina found herself feeling rather protective.
"Careful," she hissed very softly, the look in her eyes
dangerous. He wanted to say something---she could see it in his
expression and body language---wanted to, but didn't dare. "And now
why don't you get lost?"
Thin lips twisted into a sneer, but something about her scared him
enough that he turned away without further comment.
Selina stayed where she was---on guard---until he disappeared around
the corner of a nearby building, then she turned back, unsurprised to
find that the redhead had turned her head away and refused to look up.
No more able to resist temptation than she had been only minutes before,
she reached out, curving gentle fingers along the smooth line of the
other woman's jaw, drawing her head back around. "The Runyon's just
down the street," she said simply, very aware of the irony of
suggesting that hotel. They'd first met as Catwoman and Batgirl on the
roof of the luxury hotel to compare notes on Ryder Burnhan, then later
questioned the madman's servant in a top floor suite that was being
remodeled. The same suite where Selina had impulsively decided to leave
a stolen painting for Batgirl as her cut of the take.
The same suite where she forcibly deflowered the younger woman.
Selina suddenly found herself wondering if that was such a great
choice. After all, there was irony, and then there was Irony.
That definitely fell into the latter, far more intense category.
Green eyes refused to turn her way. "I can't," Barbara
whispered, her voice ragged and stressed. Dick, she reminded herself.
She couldn't betray him that way, not when ... when he'd been so damn
loyal and stuck by her despite everything. And then there was Bruce. The
last time she knew anything, there'd been something going on between he
and Selina, and she couldnít get in the way of that, whatever it was.
No, despite the rolling heat in the pit of her belly, she couldn't give
in this time. She wasn't nineteen anymore, and easily bowled over by
such overwhelming sensuality. Gentle fingers stroked her jaw and cheek,
and despite her best intention, she looked up and was quickly caught in
the trap of vivid green eyes. "I ... I have someone in my
life," she said as much to remind herself as warn Selina off. She
should have known that wasn't the sort of thing likely to chase a world
class thief away.
Selina leaned back down, one hand still resting lightly on the chair.
"I don't care," she admitted honestly.
Barbara knew she should at least try to avoid the mouth that sought
out her own, but somehow she just stayed where she was, frozen in
place---though cold was the last word she would have used to describe
her condition. No, she was hot, incredibly, achingly, agonizingly hot,
every last nerve ending that was still connected apparently functioning
in high gear, leaving her feeling seared from the inside out. "You
don't understand--" she croaked when the kiss broke, her resolve
already very nearly shattered. She'd only felt like this once before in
her life, and she hadn't known how to deal with it then either.
"I understand I want you," Selina disagreed, fingers still
stroking an impossibly soft cheek. "And from where I'm standing it
looks like you want me too." Her lips just barely brushed
Barbara's. "Now come with me."
Barbara meant to say no, to refuse and get into the Humvee. Instead,
she found herself nodding and accepting the kiss that followed, too
drawn to the other woman to do what she knew she should and turn away.
Breathing hard, her pulse racing, Selina finally broke the kiss, a
low wolf whistle reminding her that they weren't exactly in the right
place for this sort of thing. Much better to find a bed, and do it
right. She'd made the mistake of not doing that the first time. It
wasn't an error she intended to repeat. "Hotel," she croaked,
turning her head brush her lips along the other woman's temple. She
reached past a slender shoulder, remembered the lack of handles and
instead wrapped her fingers around the horizontal steel bar that ran
across the back.
Despite the heady daze that had more or less reduced her mental
faculties to almost nothing, Barbara noted the gesture and tensed.
"No," she gasped as she tore her mouth free. Her eyes flashed
angrily, warning the other woman off. "I told you, I don't need
It took a beat for Selina to process the sharply uttered words, but
when she did, she pulled her hand back and held it up in surrender. She
knew all about being stubbornly independent."Of course not,"
she soothed, then added, "I didn't think."
An embarrassed flush slid over high cheekbones. "I just ... I
need to control my space," she said at last. After everything that
had happened to her, it was very important to maintain some sense of
jurisdiction over her own body and by extension, her chair.
Considering what had already passed between them, the irony of the
quiet, faintly embarrassed comments didn't escape Selina. Raw kisses and
invitations to a hotel apparently weren't an insurmountable problem, but
pushing the chair was. Some days human nature amazed her. "I
understand," she said at last and reached out to brush a few loose
strands of hair out of green eyes.
Yes, Barbara realized as she looked up at the other woman, she would.
Selina Kyle wasn't a woman who accepted help easily. Or sometimes at
all. She'd tried to use and reject Oracle's help, only accepting it once
again because she'd had no choice in the matter. And even then she'd
tried to stiff the payment as though that would somehow negate the
reality that sheíd needed assistance in the first place. Reminded of
those harsh facts, she felt a touch of resurgent sanity. She couldn't do
this. It was wrong, but it was just a momentary bout of utter madness,
and she could still put a stop to it before it went too far.
Selina saw the change come over the other woman's expression, her
emotions suddenly hidden behind high shutters. "No," she
whispered almost inaudibly and leaned down, staring into eyes that were
suddenly deliberately blank. "No," she said again, slender
hands reaching out to frame a fine-boned face. "Don't block me
out." And then she kissed, soft and sweet this time, the kind of
kiss that was a bare brushing of lips, a fluttering caress that was all
invitation and no demand. "Please," Selina breathed as their
lips parted and she pulled back no more than an inch or two.
It was the quiet plea that did Barbara in. If Selina had just behaved
true to form and commanded or tried to take, she could have resisted,
but not the need and something else---something deep and hurt---that
glittered in cat-green eyes.
"Please," Selina said again and ran the pad of her thumb
along a full lower lip. She almost never asked for anything. It simply
wasn't in her nature, but suddenly she wanted to pretend she was someone
else for just a little while. She caught a slender hand in her own,
stroked the knuckles lightly, then lifted it to press a soft kiss into
the center of the palm.
Intensely aware of the press of those soft lips and the gentle
caresses still playing over the back of her hand, Barbara closed her
eyes momentarily, struggling to block out the silent entreaty directed
her way. God, how could the other woman do this to her, make her feel.
She'd long tried to deny it to herself, but back in the day, she'd been
just a little in love with Catwoman. Maybe that was why she'd never been
able to summon the hatred or anger she often felt guilty for not
feeling. It was just that there was something irresistible about Selina
Kyle, a seductive combination of strength, femininity, total confidence,
and something else wholly unique to her. She'd drawn Barbara in and made
her head spin when she was only nineteen. Now she was past thirty, and
apparently nothing had changed.
"Please," Selina said a third time, her breath playing over
Barbara's face in the brief moment before their lips made contact again,
just barely brushing this time.
It was insane, and Barbara knew it, but when the kiss broke only a
second or two later, she found herself nodding and allowing a gentle tug
on the arms of the chair to start her in the direction of the hotel.
Reaching for the wheels, she gave them a firm push, moving on autopilot,
uncertain what she was doing, but accepting that she couldn't seem to do
anything else. Her mind and body were both tied up in knots, thoughts
spinning unchecked through her brain, unbelievable heat burning her from
the inside out and leaving her shivering as though she was caught in an
ice storm. She'd remembered that night for years despite her best
efforts to push it away. It had clung to her, playing in her
subconscious, coming out again when she least expected it, haunting her
in the dark of night when sleep was hard to come by. Maybe if she gave
way to this, it would exorcize those demons once and for all. Maybe the
only way to deal with that particular addiction was with the proverbial
hair of the dog. Or should that be, 'Hair of the cat?' Barbara mused and
had to fight the urge to giggle hysterically as several double entendres
occurred to her at once.
Taking up a measured pace next to the slender redhead, Selina kept
slanting looks her way, and caught sight of the tiny grin that
momentarily touched full lips. She was tempted to ask, but feared
shattering the tenuous bond that tied them together. She saw green eyes
flick her way, and offered a small smile of her own. She was rewarded by
the pink flush that slid over sculpted cheekbones. A tiny gasp escaped
Selina's lips, the tension coiling tight in every fiber of her being as
a kind of excitement that she hadn't felt in far too long washed over
her. With everything that had happened in the last several months, her
old lifestyle had ceased to have any great draw for her. The old thrill
of outsmarting the world and stealing whatever she wanted no longer
seemed to hold much appeal, while sex was no longer the fun game it had
once been. There was Slam, but sleeping with the P.I. was about comfort,
and needing not to be alone at night. And the sad truth was that, though
he loved her, she didn't feel the same, and his recent desire to deepen
things had her feeling painfully uncomfortable. Meanwhile, her
flirtation with Batman was more of an S&M fantasy than something
that held any promise of turning into a real relationship. And this
She didn't know, hadn't had time to contemplate the possible impact,
and perhaps was afraid of looking too closely for fear of shattering
whatever it was, because the excitement felt good after feeling so dead
inside for so long. She wished she could just sweep the woman off and
not worry about the practicalities of life like checking into a hotel,
but the nearest of her apartments was several miles away, and she wasn't
sure either one of them would make the distance since that would have
involved thought, driving, time to consider and reconsider. It wasn't
like that black night with the handcuffs, clinging flesh, and soft
whimpers, couldn't be so impulsive and insane as that, but was it the
sort of thing that would stand up to much contemplation? It was madness
for both of them, and considering it too closely would only drive that
They walked in silence, but Selina found herself reaching out,
fingers stroking red hair very softly, caught in a strange surreal sense
of the world that allowed everything else to drop away, and left time
feeling very warped and uneven. The seconds seemed to rush by during the
journey to the hotel, then drag miserably while she arranged for a room,
incredibly aware of the woman waiting off to the side, half afraid that
on the next glance, she'd be gone, gone back into the ether from whence
she came. They started to spin impossibly quickly again during the
elevator ride to the top floor, then seemed to freeze in place just as
Selina opened the door to the suite.
Feeling as though she was moving against imprisoning amber, Selina
stared into green eyes, then stepped aside to make way. As she stood
there waiting, she half expected Red to turn and leave and she wasn't
sure what she'd do if that happened: stand aside or act true to form and
steal what she wanted so desperately. She didn't like either answer, so
the relief was thick and clinging when the other woman pushed on the
wheels of the chair and rolled past her. Time returned to something
approaching normal as Selina pushed the door closed behind herself and
turned to face....
It suddenly struck her that she didn't know the other woman's name.
She swallowed hard, felt time start to drag again as she was caught up
in events, the sense of her own uncertainty washing over her. Once upon
a time there wouldn't have been any doubt about her actions. Suddenly it
seemed as though there was nothing else. "You feel it too, don't
you?" she whispered at last, without specifying the emotion in
question, grateful for the semi-darkened room that allowed them both to
hide in comfortable shadows. It was no surprise that the woman who had
once been Batgirl gravitated toward the darkness just as she did.
Despite the lack of explanation---or maybe because of it---Barbara
knew exactly what Selina meant. She nodded slowly, her own confusion
rolling over her, startled by the seeming vulnerability in what she
could see of the other woman's expression. Maybe it was just a trick of
the light or the dappled shadows playing games with her imagination, but
there seemed to be a softness there that had been missing all those
years before. She'd never thought to see that on Selina Kyle's face. And
then Selina was right there, immediately in front of her and on one
knee, one hand resting lightly on a warm thigh that only barely
registered the contact. She reached up with her other hand, stroking
Barbara's cheek, the faint contact leaving heat trails in its wake.
"What can I call you?" Not, 'What's your name?' since
Selina knew perfectly well that wasn't likely to get an honest answer
and wasn't entirely certain she even wanted one. They'd avoided any
discussion of names before, sliding into that odd conversational style
that strangers often use where names become immaterial. And maybe the
anonymity of this experience was part of the appeal. Whatever each of
them knew about the other---and she was far from certain about the other
woman's knowledge, and suspected the reverse was also true---there was a
sense of plausible deniability. It could be nothing more than an
afternoon escape if they wanted, something that happened once and became
nothing more than an unexplained smile that appeared now and then.
Caught by surprise, Barbara momentarily panicked. Offering even her
first name felt much too dangerous, and making up some strange name
seemed hopelessly silly.
Selina saw the indecision in green eyes and took pity. Her fingers
brushed soft lips in a silencing motion. "Don't torture yourself,
Red," she said softly, a hint of a smile curving her lips. "We
don't need names if they're a problem." Maybe it would be easier
without even a semblance of reality. And then she pushed back to her
feet, leaned close and tasted warm lips.
Barbara heard herself moan as that lilting kiss began, felt the
twisting heat twine through her body, seeking out and finding every
functioning nerve ending and making them pulse and whine for more. A
graceful hand found the curve of her waist, stroking softly, and
lighting tiny fires all over her skin. And then that hand skated behind
her back while another slid under her knees. Breaking the kiss, she
pulled her head back, shaking it unsteadily. "I don't need--"
"I know," Selina overrode the defiant declaration with
gentle insistence and snatched a quick kiss. "I want to." And
then she was lifting, the press of soft flesh and hard muscle feeling so
right in her arms. She ducked her head, finding the redhead's mouth with
her own as she sank down onto the huge bed. Lips and tongues met and
meshed as she moved over the other woman, legs scissored together, hands
cupped under her shoulders. A long moment of silent perusal followed as
they both studied the rises and hollows visible in the faint light,
trying to read each other.
Barbara slid her arms around the lean body poised above her own, one
hand easing under Selina's jacket, bare flesh separated from bare flesh
by nothing more than a thin, silk shell. She trailed her other hand up
and around Selina's chest and shoulder, then worked her fingers into
short, dark hair. "Why?" she whispered, still not
understanding this at all. Why in the hell would Selina choose her? She
honestly couldn't see any reason for it, and the soft laugh the question
brought drew a confused look.
"Because we both need someone right now," the brunette
drawled without offering further explanation, then ducked her head to
explore the graceful slope of the redhead's neck and shoulder. It was as
much explanation as she had anyway, or at least as much as she could
offer since she couldn't exactly admit to the strange, surreal night and
the resulting mix of guilt and desire that had been with her ever since.
Taut muscles spasmed and Barbara arched into the soft kisses that
fell on her bare shoulders above the edge of her dress. Selina peeled a
thin spaghetti strap aside and explored lower, every brush of her lips
drawing a fresh shudder and another rolling wave of heat. It was insane,
but her body felt more alive than it had at any time since the shooting,
and her stomach muscles clenched, making her buck into the hand that
dropped to rest lightly on her lower belly, moving ever so slightly in
the lightest of caresses. And then the mouth on her upper chest was
sliding higher again, brushing her jaw, her cheek, her temple.
"My turn to ask why," Selina breathed between the fluttery
Barbara didn't initially answer, just sifted through short, dark
hair, playing with the springy strands and letting them slip through her
fingers. "You make me feel..." she whispered at last, trailing
off when she wasn't sure how to explain exactly what it was she was
going through. "Maybe it's just that you make me feel," she
said after a long beat during which she failed to come up with any
emotional descriptors. "And I haven't in a long time ... at least
not like this." The hand on her stomach slid lower, stroking
lightly as it moved. The sensation dissipated, but for once it didn't
disappear entirely, while nerve endings deep inside her body ached and
throbbed. She felt a moment's resentment that it was this woman who did
this to her without even really trying when every one of Dick's efforts
hadn't even come close. Soft lips brushed her cheek again, and softer
words were murmured against her skin.
"I think I know what you mean," Selina sighed, the redheadís
words touching something deep inside of her, something she'd thought
lost or discarded too many years before to count. She pushed up on one
hand to stare down into eyes that glittered ever so slightly in the
faint light. "I know it's probably not the same thing," she
admitted, then cocked her head to one side as she considered it. She
didn't know what had happened to the woman who had been Batgirl during
the intervening years, but maybe some of it wasn't so different. Maybe
they were both damaged in ways only the other one could possibly
understand. "Then again ... maybe it is." She let her gaze
fall to where her hand was stroking lightly, watching the faint restless
movement the caresses provoked, and listening to the tiny hitches in the
other woman's breathing, while she tracked the faint quivers that slid
over her skin. Her gaze rose again. "It's been a long time for you,
hasn't it?" she whispered, then added more clarify the question,
"Since you really wanted someone ... rather than just not wanting
to be alone."
Barbara swallowed hard, a little frightened to hear her own
unacknowledged emotions put into words that way by someone who, at least
in theory, barely knew her. Admitting to that seemed like an even worse
betrayal to Dick than sleeping with Selina, and yet she couldn't deny
the charge. She curled her fingers around the hand caressing her
stomach. "What are you doing to me?" she exhaled in a voice
rife with fear. When she looked into Selina Kyle's eyes, it was like she
entered some new place in her soul where she barely knew who she was. A
faint headshake proved her to be every bit as confused as Barbara.
"I don't know ... but it's mutual," Selina whispered,
looking down as smooth fingers outlined her knuckles, then trailed along
the cords that stood out against the back of her hand. And then she felt
pressure, pulling her hand lower while green eyes slid closed, as though
some admissions simply couldn't be made while facing any part of the
world. They had started a game long years before only to leave it
unfinished. Apparently it was finally time for each of them to make the
And Selina knew exactly what hers was going to be. The redhead was
wearing a short minidress and it wasn't long before Selina's fingers
were touching a velvety inner thigh. Red moaned, her head pressing back
into the pillows, her breathing sharpening. "What do you want me to
do?" brunette questioned, fascinated by what she could see of the
emotions that slid over shadowed features.
Intensely aware of the faint brush of flesh and heat touching her
where she hadn't felt anything beyond a few ghost sensations in years,
it took Barbara a moment to translate the question, and when she did her
fingers tightened on Selina's hand, a moment's indecision freezing her
in place. Stop now and maybe she could still regain her sense of self
and not do something that threatened to trash her self respect, and
destroy the steadiest relationship she'd ever had in her life.
"I haven't felt anything in years ... just a few hints ... a
little here and there," Barbara said, her voice a ragged whisper.
And then her eyes snapped open. No matter what she should do, she
couldn't. And then those fingers moved ever so slightly, the heat of the
contact burning her with an addictive fire. "And I feel you."
She pulled lightly, felt that searing touch, slight as it was, slide
higher on her body. God only knew whether it was real or her
imagination, but then again, she wasnít sure it even mattered.
"Touch me." The words came as a desperate plea, her tone
melting into a soft whimper as those fingers continued moving against
Selina shifted, taking a moment to peel off her blazer before
stretching out next to the other woman, her weight braced on her elbow
as she ran her fingers over soft skin, thrilled by the restless tremors
that rippled through the body next to her own. Amazing to realize that
someone else's pleasure could do this to her. When it came to matters of
sexual intimacy, she'd usually been one to take her own pleasure,
confident she'd blown her partner's mind simply by allowing them to be
with her. More often than not, she'd been right too. A throaty purr and
the compliment that she wanted them had been more than enough
gratification for most lovers and all she cared to share of herself
anyway. Not this time. This time she wanted it all. She angled closer,
lips fluttering along the line of a firm jaw, then covered a mouth that
was softer than her own as her fingers found the edge of silky
underwear. Fingers tightened on her hand with almost painful force as
she worked her way past that delicate barrier, sliding under the thin
waistband, then combing through soft curls.
Barbara almost screamed, abdominals spasming, lifting her hips to
meet Selina's fingers. Logically, she knew the sensations were faint
compared to what they'd once been, but they were so much more than sheíd
felt in a long time that she could barely think straight. One hand was
still tangled in Selina's hair and she pulled her closer, the shields
that normally hid her thoughts and feelings falling away.
Her touch light and careful, Selina worked her fingers deeper into
humid flesh, moving slowly, afraid of somehow doing damage, but as she
glimpsed the hunger visible in green eyes, she wasn't sure that was the
right approach. "Hard or soft?" she whispered.
Her breath coming harsh and unsteady, Barbara ran her tongue along
the line of her lips to moisten them. She could feel those fingers,
long, slim, and agile---could feel them---and just wanted more.
Held in place by Selina's gaze, she let go of her death grip on the
brunette's hand, trailing her fingertips up the length of her wrist,
then higher, wrapping her fingers around her forearm, pressing firmly
enough to feel the shape of taut muscle. A moment later her hand rose to
Selina's upper arm, the thin silk that separated flesh from flesh doing
nothing to stop Barbara from testing the strength of bicep, tricep, and
the run of muscle and ligament that tied her arm to her shoulder. She'd
felt that strength once before, really felt it as the same fingers that
were touching her now were driven deep into her body. "Hard,"
she admitted at last. She was tired of being treated like a china doll
that might break if handled with anything but cautious reverence.
Green eyes flashed with understanding, then Selina slipped her
fingers free of soft flesh to curl them into silky underwear and tear.
The soft sound of ripping fabric seemed to vibrate the very air
molecules around both women, and then the brunette tossed the shredded
cloth aside. Holding green eyes that were a completely different shade
from her own, Selina returned her fingers to soft flesh, exploring a
little tentatively at first, then more strongly as she heard the
resulting gasps and moans. Stretched out alongside the slender figure,
Selina slid her free arm behind narrow shoulders, pulling the other
woman closer, thrilled by the hands that found her body and clung to her
back and shoulders. "I know what you need," she whispered near
a delicate ear as she slid her fingers more firmly over slick flesh. Her
teeth closed lightly on a soft earlobe, then bit harder as she felt the
body in her arms shudder. She let go the sharp hold, then trailed her
tongue along the whirls of Red's ear. "Someone who knows just how
strong you are ... knows you don't need to be protected ... that you
need to be challenged...." Remembering the feel of a lithe body in
her arms, the struggle between them. And the arousal that had resulted
all those years before---because for all of her anger, the woman in
Selina's arms had been excited---she knew instinctively that this woman
needed to explore that strength. Once upon a time, Red had played the
wildest of games. A personality like that wasn't likely to enjoy being
coddled and packed away in cotton.
"Please," Barbara groaned low in her throat, and turned
into Selina's upper body, clutching tightly, blunted nails digging in
where one hand was spread against the small of Selina's back.
"I will ... I promise," Selina breathed, fingers already
searching and moving, learning the new---or least little
explored---landscape opened up for her. She shifted the position of the
hand braced behind slender shoulders, fingers working into silky red
hair, pulling Red's head up until their lips met and meshed. Tiny
nonsensical whimpers filled her mouth when she eased a single finger
inside in a first, careful foray. "Begging for more?" she
growled through the ranging kisses.
Barbara pulled away from Selina's mouth, teeth digging into her chin,
not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to make green eyes spark and
powerful muscles pull taut. "More," she gasped, her voice
carrying equal measures of plea and command.
"Such a demanding little kitten," Selina purred, reclaiming
possession of sweet lips as she added a second finger to the first. A
strong hand tugged her blouse free of her skirt, then slid under, nails
digging directly into her lower back.
"Now," Barbara whined.
A ripple of sensual laughter hung in the air and Barbara's temerity
was rewarded with a third finger and a slow, deep thrust. Nearly
overwhelmed by the wonderful fullness of the invasion, she buried her
face in the curve of Selina's neck, pressing soft kisses everywhere she
could reach while her hands clutched convulsively at the slender body
around and above her own, digging in and pulling her even closer.
Sensation, intense and nearly forgotten rushed over every nerve ending
still capable of carrying a signal, Selina's ability to arouse her as no
one else ever had bringing her body to life in ways she didn't even
begin to understand.
"So wild," the brunette whispered and pressed a kiss onto
the other woman's temple. "So beautiful." And then she gave
the redhead what she was begging for, muscles flexing all along the
length of her arm as she thrust with the strength and power her new
lover was pleading for.
Clinging even harder, Barbara pulled Selina's head down, mouths
blending together in a symphony of sweet, soul-stealing kisses.
Mouths moved together, both aggressive and hungry. Easily matching
the tempo of raw, hard thrusts. Selina drank in the resulting flow of
moans and whimpers, achingly aroused by the other woman's hunger and
desperation. Her thumb riding high, fingers going deep, she thrust with
such force that she lifted the other woman's hips off the mattress in an
openly sexual rhythm, the strength required, grinding their bodies
together from shoulder to hip. She pulled back ever so slightly to stare
down into flushed features, taking in the need visible in green eyes.
Then she kissed again, toying with the mouth momentarily bound to her
own. "You need more, don't you, Red?" she growled, then
trailed her lips along the sharp cut of the redhead's jaw. "You
need my mouth," she hissed in her ear, heard the low groan and felt
the body pressed against her own spasm, and smiled.
Suddenly tense and a little frightened, as much because of the sudden
flood of heat as in spite of it, Barbara pushed Selina back until she
could stare into green eyes, caught and held by the uninhibited pleasure
she saw there. "I don't ... I mean ... I ... I..." she
stammered brokenly, nearly frozen by the intensity of her response.
There'd always been something wanton and a little forbidden about the
act, a sense of surrender and even submission that made her
uncomfortable. Being the only one lost in that kind of pleasure gave
away enormous power, and she'd never been entirely sanguine about
letting go that completely. That it meant bypassing scars the sight of
which always made Dick wince and often as not seemed to kill his ardor
had only made it less appealing.
Selina saw the hesitance but also felt the way the body beneath her
own trembled wildly. "You want it...." she whispered
knowingly, muscles flexing up and down her arm as she thrust again.
"...need it..." she growled and ducked her head, nipping and
kissing her way across Barbara's chest. "...and you're going to
have it." Braced on her hands, she trailed hot kisses over the
slope of gently rounded breasts and down, dragging her tongue along the
striated curve of her ribcage, then outlining taut abdominals. She
thrust again as her teeth dug into a slender hip hard enough to leave a
red imprint and a faint indentation, then pushed slender thighs apart.
"All of it."
Despite being careful not damage soft flesh, Selina wasnít gentle,
using teeth and tongue to draw the pleasure ever tighter until Barbaraís
back was clenched in a tight bow at the shoulders, her hands gripping
soft hair so tightly her fingers threatened to cramp, tiny, whining
exhalations escaping gently parted lips. Selina deepened the thrusts and
roughened the caresses and felt as much as heard the prone womanís
whispered pleas. And then she pushed up on one hand, staring up the
length of Redís body, grabbing and holding the gaze that swung down to
lock with her own in the thin light. That intense jade gaze followed
Selina as she lowered herself again, determined not to stop this time.
What followed was all hard muscle, raw strength, and whipping
caresses, and Barbara thrived on it, her body heaving and twisting in
time with Selinaís barely leashed power until finally fireworks
exploded behind her tightly closed eyelids, runners of fire moving along
every functioning nerve ending in her body.
Dear God, sheíd completely forgotten sex could be like this.
Or maybe sheíd never known.
No, that was wrong. Sheíd known. One night sheíd fallen under
this same, silken spell and nearly lost her soul for the doing. In the
years since, sheíd tried like hell to ignore it, forget it, and
pretend it never happened, but here it was, still with her, still able
to make her doubt her every thought and emotion. And now it even came
without the safe, plausible deniability of force. Now it was just as
much on her shoulders as it was on Selinaís. Sheíd made a choice and
here she was.
And, god help her, Barbara couldnít even find it in her to regret
A keening whine vibrated her eardrums---her own desperate cries,
Barbara realized distantly---even as the muscles in her upper back,
shoulders, across her chest and down her abdomen all locked, then began
pulsing in time with the sudden waves of pleasure that crested and broke
over her. Her nails dug in and found a purchase in slender shoulders,
doubtless leaving claw marks even through Selinaís blouse.
Barbara never realized what she was doing, too lost in sensation to
track the real world.
It was like being caught in a vicious undertow, her body no longer
her own to control, darkness and light exploding and popping behind
closed eyelids in ways that had nothing to do with the illumination in
the room, her lungs fighting for oxygen that seemed to have disappeared,
while she was tossed about like so much flotsam on the waves.
And then suddenly the water was gone and she was in midair and
plunging straight down so fast she could almost hear the wind whistling
past her ears.
Barbara landed hard in her fall back to earth, collapsing into a
boneless sprawl, the only faint movement she was capable of, turning her
head as she was gathered close to a body that was equal parts hard
muscle and soft curves, by arms that held her far more gently than she
would have predicted.
"Shhh. Itís all right," Selina soothed and Barbara
abruptly realized she was crying, her body shaking with ragged sobs, hot
tears falling on the curve of Selinaís neck. A gentle hand petted her
hair and soft lips dusted kisses onto her temples. "Youíre okay.
Iíve got you."
Nosing deeper into the warmth of Selinaís neck, Barbara had to
fight a burst of near hysterical laughter as it occurred to her that she
believed every word of it. She was lying in the arms of Selina Kyle---Catwoman---feeling
as safe and protected as sheíd ever felt in her life. It shouldnít
have made sense, and yet somehow it did. She started to pull away ever
so slightly, but Selina cupped the back of her head, gently restraining
"Shhh. Easy," that silky, oh-so-sexy voice teased Barbaraís
ear, the tone both understanding and oddly sympathetic. "Give
yourself a few minutes."
Barbara tightened her hold on firm curves, lips playing over a taut
cord in Selinaís throat as her pulse slowly settled back to something
approaching normal, and she remembered how to breathe again. Finally,
she pulled her head back, her breathing slow and deep now, though still
a little ragged, a little startled to find Selinaís expression
incredibly soft as their eyes met. She dropped her gaze, captivated by
the half smile curving full lips. If she hadnít known Selina better,
she would have sworn she was nervous. She looked back up, swallowing
hard, her hands still trembling gently as she reached up and brushed
overlong bangs away from Selinaís forehead.
"Itís been a long time for you, hasnít it?" Selina
breathed, awed by the intensity of the other womanís response.
Not knowing what to say, Barbara just shrugged.
Amazed to feel her heart slamming against the inside of her ribs,
Selina could only stare for a long moment. When she finally moved again,
it was to cup one hand along the side of Redís face, feeling a
thousand different things sheíd long since forgotten she was even
capable of. She licked suddenly dry lips, struggling to think of
something profound to say, but profound had never been among her many
talents. She was better at wiseass and snarky, and neither of those
sentiments was even remotely appropriate for the occasion. This was....
Oh, yes, it was and how.
Selina ran her thumb along the full curve of the redheadís lower
lip, absorbing the velvety texture and committing the sensation to
memory. A wry smile touched her lips as she glanced down and remembered
they were both still almost completely dressed. Just a few key bits
missing here and there. Theyíd both been too eager for more to care.
Red desperate for raw, sexual pleasure, while Selina had been just as
desperate to give it to her. She shook her head in amazement. If she was
honest, sheíd never been the most giving of souls---in bed or out of
it---but there had been a sense of power and something more in knowing
that no one else had done this for the woman in her arms in a very long
The heat of a delicate fingertip stroking the ridge of her cheekbone
brought Selina out of her momentary musings, drawing her to refocus on
the woman in her arms, noting that the tears had dried, though her smile
was still on the watery side. How was it this woman reached inside of
her and touched a part of her soul sheíd long since concluded she didnít
even have? Red brushed a light caress down the line of her throat,
drawing erotic patterns on her skin. Her smile turning decidedly sexual,
Selina reached up and covered that hand with her own, guiding it down to
the first button in the vee of her blouse. "Let me feel you,"
she pleaded, her other hand making its way to the hem of Redís dress.
"All of you." She toyed with the soft skin of Redís upper
thigh as she eased her fingers under the edge of her dress, seeking out
the textures of velvet and silk she knew awaited her.
Faintly fumbling, Barbara carefully eased the button free, then made
her way to the next one, working her way down Selinaís chest, her full
attention drawn to the pale, butter-soft skin revealed by her slow
progress. As the soft fabric fell open, she slipped a hand underneath
the pale silk to cup a full breast with her fingers and palm. Already
taut flesh firmed under her touch, Selinaís breath catching while her
body shifted restlessly. "Hard or soft?" Barbara knowingly
repeated Selinaís earlier question.
Selina considered the question for a moment. Sheíd played so many
games, rough, hard, demanding, kinky games, and suddenly they all seemed
hopelessly wrong. "Soft," she breathed, her fingers playing
over sculpted cheekbones, then slipping back into russet hair. "As
soft as itís possible to be ... skin to skin." She kissed Red
very lightly, lips just barely brushing. "Mouth to mouth ... body
to body...." She tugged her loverís---Selina mentally tested that
designation, decided she like it, and kissed her again---dress higher,
fingers stroking impossibly smooth flesh during the journey to drag the
stretchy fabric higher.
Barbara pushed Selinaís blouse back off her shoulders, fingertips
just barely dusting newly bared skin, smiling as she noted the
goosebumps that rose in the wake of her touch and heard Selinaís soft
gasps as firm curves ground into her own. She frowned ever so slightly,
watching Selina, reading the signs and recognizing them, though there
was a part of her that didnít quite believe what logic was telling
Well aware of those striking eyes watching her, Selina felt her hands
shake ever so slightly as she impatiently tugged Redís dress higher.
After a momentís frustration, she pushed up to gain some space, then
tugged the soft fabric all the way off in one smooth move, letting go
and not caring where it fell as her eyes traced stunningly perfect
curves. Hard to believe she was anything but perfectly normal without
any physical problems at all. Selina reached out and brushed her
fingertips along sleek runs of muscle, felt the tiny quiver and
twitches, then felt them die away as her fingers slid lower, that shift
in response a poignant and visceral dose of reality. She swallowed hard,
amazed by her own sense of awe and desire. No one had ever made her feel
this way before in her life. She was caught by surprise when Red reached
up and stroked her cheek, then slid a hand around the back of her neck,
fingers working into the hair at the nape of her neck.
"Itís been a long time for you too, hasnít it?" Barbara
whispered in a sudden burst of understanding. "Maybe not since youíve
been with someone, but since..." she stumbled to a halt, not
knowing how to phrase it and suddenly feeling vaguely foolish. Selina
Kyle wasnít a woman who needed to beg for attention from either sex.
"Iím sorry. Thatís stupid. Youíre probably---"
"Actually, youíre right," Selina breathed. "Itís
been a long time since Iíve been with someone I really wanted to be
with." Mostly she just hadnít wanted to be alone in her recent
encounters. "A very long time since anyone got past the
walls." She ducked her head, traded more kisses, leaning into firm
curves as she felt agile fingers toy with the fasteners on her skirt.
She slithered out of the unwanted garment and her underwear at the same
time, helped in the task by quick and graceful hands that stroked and
smoothed as they pushed the light fabric down over her hips. And then
she was kicking free and sinking down again, upper bodyweight braced on
her hands as she scissored her legs together with Redís. They kissed
slowly and fingers toyed with her hair, then played down the line of her
spine. Shivering violently, Selina tipped her head back, opening her
throat to the soft lips that ambled along a taut cord like Little Red
Riding Hood wandering to the Forest. A tiny sound that was half whimper,
half moan escaped her lips. Only this time Little Red wasnít likely to
meet a wolf because a very hungry, jungle cat had gotten there first.
Fingers slid down her body, lightly stroking Selinaís breasts and
A very hungry, jungle cat likely to roll on its back and purr happily
if Red kept petting its belly that way. Damn! That was always the way to
get to a cat, Selina mused with some humor. Pet its belly, stroke its
ears, and make it purr and itís yours---if not for life, then....
Well, she couldnít contemplate that at that moment.
Actually, given the way her brain was threatening to short circuit,
she couldnít contemplate much of anything. A low moan vibrating the
back of her throat much like one of her namesakes, she tightened her
hold on Red, then did a slow roll onto her back, pulling the other woman
on top of her, shivers quicksilvering over her skin in response to the
pure, sybaritic pleasure of feeling the textures of human silk and
velvet sliding against what seemed like every inch of her body.
Already spun to a fever pitch, she almost exploded right then and
Then she was grateful she hadnít as Red braced her hands on the
mattress, ducked her head, and began fluttering the lightest of
kisses---brushes so faint they resembled the passage of a butterflyís
wing---everywhere she could reach. She barely even made contact,
sometimes didnít actually make contact, just drew so close Selina
could feel the radiant heat of her lips.
How could something so faint, so light it was almost a trick of the
imagination, be so goddamned intense that it had ready to scream? Selina
Kyle, aka Catwoman, who was generally known for yelling, "Harder,
faster," meaning it, demanding it, and using her claws to get it if
the party in question didnít obey her requests with sufficient vigor,
was whimpering, moaning, and pleading for caresses so delicate she ought
to be barely able to feel them.
And yet, she felt them. From the top of her head, to the very tips of
her toes, she felt every single one until her body was humming, every
hair standing on end, her breathing ragged and harsh, her toes tightly
curled. Redís lips dusted over her breasts like the softest rose
petals, played down the length of each arm, brushed the tip of every one
of her ten fingertips, then outlined neatly delineated abdominal muscles
that quivered and rippled at their passage. "Please," Selina
heard that soft, distant sound---herself begging---and shuddered. She
never begged. Selina Kyle absolutely. Did. Not. Beg. Ever. "Donít
stop ... god, please, donít stop."
Dusty kisses fell across Selinaís stomach and hips, then scattered
themselves over her upper thighs. Whatever her limitations, Red had
clearly figured out how to get around because she seemed to be moving
easily and was definitely going anywhere she wanted.
Shoulders rolling into the softness of the mattress, Selinaís body
rose rhythmically, fingers working into spun silk hair, her touch as
gentle and as light as she knew how to make it, for once not grabbing or
controlling. She whimpered, pled, legs apart, inviting the body above
her own to move closer and deeper.
Red, on the other hand, had her own plans and was more than willing
to take her own sweet time.
Sweet, sweet time. Her lips danced and played, her breath heating
already molten nerve endings until muscles trembled and sweat beaded.
Selina lost all track of time and space, her entire existence
coalescing into a pulsating whine of sexual need.
And through the whole thing, Red barely even made contact. Selina
would have sworn that sheíd never been made for such subtleties. She
was a woman of action and demand, and yet she was completely lost in the
gossamer caresses falling everywhere.
"Please." Again the out of character begging came, and
finally, there was some time tiny measure of something approaching real
pressure as she was entered and stroked from the inside out. Her spine
twisted into a deep arch, shoulders and hips pressing into the mattress,
center back coming all the way off of it. And then the faint kisses
found the aching center of her need in a flutter of a contact that was
less a caress than it was an awareness of nearness. Her heels and
shoulders denting the mattress, Selina heard her voice as if from the
wrong end of a very long hallway pleading and begging, begging and
pleading. How could something so light be so intense, and how could she
have been tamed by something so tender? She didnít understand it at
all. A part of her wanted to grab Red and force her to increase the
tempo, the pressure, the contact. The hunter wanted its prey.
And the other part knew that the moment she did that, Red might well
give her exactly what she wanted, but it wouldnít be what she needed.
Couldnít be what she would get if she let herself go and let the other
woman control this.
Sheíd said she wanted soft, but she hadnít known it could be this
hard. Her entire body bucked, instinctively trying to take the all the
things Selina was fighting the urge to demand, but Red was quick and
agile, easily riding with the sudden burst of movement, and refusing to
let the pressure increase for any reason but by her choice. Gentle as it
was, she was completely in control, and for the first time in her life,
Selina gloried in submitting to another personís whims.
Whimpers melded into soft cries that gained in volume with each
passing moment as denial slowly turned to reward, not as fast as Selina
might have wanted, but perfectly in time with her bodyís needs.
Sensual tension coiled tighter and tighter, heat and cold suddenly
indistinguishable. Pleasure was so stretched out it was on the verge of
sliding over into pain while sensation was so desperately craved that
even pain would have been pleasure if delivered by the redhead playing
her body like it was her own personal toy.
In the past, Selina had always found orgasm to be a moment as much
about much needed relief as pleasure. It had always been rather like
scratching a particularly intense itch. Satisfying to be sure, but
little more than that. It had hit, been nice while it lasted, then left
her with the desire to roll over and sleep, preferably alone.
This was completely different.
In the first instant, as her body tightened and the sensation
coalesced, then flowered outward, she discovered an all-new definition.
At first, it was a flashfire, raging over her nerve endings hot and
fast in a blinding rush, then almost as quickly as it struck, the tempo
shifted, slowing and changing, pulsing quakes rattling back and forth
through her like a forest fire rolling back on itself to finish off any
fuel left unburned in the first wave. The blaze seemed to go on forever,
banking, dancing here and there, then relighting the embers to flare
anew, burning even hotter than it had before.
Selina purred, growled, and finally tipped her head back and howled,
the roar vibrating up from her chest deep and raw until there was no
strength left in her and the sound died away inside and out. She ran out
of cries, gasps, and even whimpers. Even the raging beat of her heart
seem to have gone silent in her chest.
Suddenly limp, Selina fell back into the mattress in a boneless
sprawl. Had she been capable of coherent thought, she might have thought
the world had gone away and sheíd been ejected into the soundless,
airless vacuum of space, the only thing left to tether her to earth, the
impossibly gentle hand that made its way up the length of her body,
barely touching as it stroked and caressed before settling over her
Time passed, though she never had even a faint idea how long, until
sound, heat, and light swam back into Selina Kyleís realm of
existence. She lifted a hand, resting it lightly over the fingers
already laid over her left breast, feeling the sympathetic thud of her
heart through the light contact. Still there and still beating, she
realized distantly, just like her lungs were still working, unsteadily
bellowing air in and our, while sweat trickled and ran over her skin.
They lay like that for a long time, and then she felt the mattress
shift and suddenly elegant curves were skimming along the sleek lines of
her body. Reaching up with a trembling hand, Selina curved her fingers
to the slope of Redís shoulder, the muscles up and down her arm
quivering with the effort required. "Red," she whispered
shakily, unaccustomed words of affection dancing on the very tip of her
tongue. "I..." the words fell away, unspoken, leaving her
uncertain what it was sheíd intended to say.
Pink lips that were soft and glossy parted, worked silently as though
Selina wasnít the only one having a hard time expressing herself, then
pressed closed again as they tipped into a smile.
Feeling her facial muscles pull in response, Selina realized that she
was grinning back. Arching up, she found and tasted that smile, quickly
discovering that it felt even better than it looked when it was molded
to her own mouth. Minutes passed while they shared slow kisses and
simply lay dovetailed together, then finally Selina, being Selina,
rolled Red beneath her. She was only capable of surrendering control for
so long before her true nature reasserted itself. Grinning down at the
woman lying beneath her, her weight braced on her elbows, Selina felt
strong hands wrap around her, then slide up her back before working
their way into her hair. "Hard," she whispered almost
inaudibly, "or soft?"
"Surprise me this time," Barbara exhaled, already once
again lost in thick pleasure, her body ramped up and feeling the effects
of making love to Selina.
Making love to Selina.
Her some part of her oh-so-logical brain tried desperately to seize
on the sheer impossibility of that idea and point out that she didnít
belong there, had no business being naked with her former enemy, and
should get the hell out as quickly as possible, but emotion and
sensation quickly overruled that sensible part of her nature. It all
just felt too damn good, too real for her to pull away, no matter how
thoroughly she knew she should. But still she tried to clear her head,
tried to remind herself about Dick and their relationship, about all the
things that should have prevented her from ever letting it get this far.
"I think a bit of both," Selina whispered, distracting
Barbara from her confused musings
Then silky kisses and caresses began trickling over her shoulders and
down her chest, and forgot all about any thoughts of pulling away.
Sanity would not reassert itself for hours to come and by the time it
did, Selina would be fast asleep.
And somehow, sanity would seem far less sane than madness.
* * * * * *
Selina yawned slowly as she woke and stretched her muscles with
languid grace. Grinning silently, she rolled and reached for the body
that had spent hours twined with her own only to come up short as she
realized she was alone in bed. She blinked, then pushed up on one elbow
as something crinkled under her arm. Startled, she reached for it, brows
drawing into a dark frown as she realized it was an envelope, the hotel
address in the return address corner and hotel stationary inside.
Selina pushed upright so she was sitting on the edge of the bed and
reached for the wall sconce nearby to illuminate the neat script that
half filled the page in her hand. It was polite, properly emotional,
both in expressing regret in not staying to face her and also in
reminding her that there was someone else in the picture. It was also
very clear that what had happened between them was a one-time thing, and
it was over now.
It wasnít signed.
She crumpled the note, frustrated anger momentarily getting the
better of her, but she didnít throw the paper with its neatly written
script away. Instead she clung to it, somehow managing to keep her hold
on it as she pushed to her feet and grabbed for her discarded clothes,
yanking them on, her movements far more wooden than theyíd been in a
long time, though they would still have appeared graceful others. Once
dressed, she stood at the window, staring out at the city for a long
moment, then she slowly let her head fall forward, eyes dropping until
they fell on the tightly balled paper still clutched in her hand. Using
her thumbnail, she pushed at an edge, opening it ever so slightly, then
pushed at another edge, working it open millimeter by millimeter,
needing to see the words again even knowing the pain they would cause.
When it was finally open, the words crumpled and difficult to read, but
legible nonetheless, she stared at the neat script, rereading them even
though theyíd been committed to memory the first time through.
Finally, she folded it, pressing it as flat as possible. As she turned
toward the door and reached for the knob, she did a half turn, staring
back at sheets that showed the effects of the hours spent with bodies
twined together. After a moment, she looked down at the note, then back
at the bed. "Oh no, Red," she said very softly, her words a
solemn vow, "this isnít over. Not by a long shot."
* * * * * *
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 itís no fun
having oneís fantasies shattered just as theyíre 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. Heíd 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 hadnít 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 faÁade 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 couldnít just walk
Not this time.
* * * * * *
Dark blonde brows drew into a frown as Dinah Lance entered Oracleís
clocktower lair. Babs was hunched over a computer station, her full
attention on a readout onscreen, her gaze focused and intense. It wasnít
what youíd 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 didnít 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 Gordonís 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 sheíd just
needed a little time off, but Dinah was certain something wasnít quite
right. She just couldnít 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, whatís 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 donít 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 wasnít 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 wasnít an answer in Dinahís opinion and seemed far more
evasive than Barbaraís usual style. Still, it didnít pay to attack
Babs head on. She was much too smart for that. A more devious approach
was typically called for. Which wouldnít have been so much of a
problem were it not for the fact that devious wasnít really Dinahís
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, youíve 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 wasnít
Barbara shook her head, turning away to glare at the computer.
"Itís 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 Dinahís way. "Itís not,"
she said too quickly. "I mean, itís not about anything," she
babbled, which was almost too weird for Dinah. Barbara Gordon just did
not babble under normal circumstances. "That is, thereís nothing
for it to be about." Clearly, that hadnít come out quite right
either, and Barbara tried again. "I mean, Iím fine."
Dinah just stared at her friend for a long moment. "Well, that
was as clear as mud," she said at last.
"Look, itís nothing," Barbara insisted. "Iím
"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 whatís 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 partnerís 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 Barbaraís 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. "Thatís 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 itís not about Dick, pray tell, whoís
been giving you hickeys?"
Barbaraís mouth opened, lips working silently for a long moment as
she struggled to formulate an answer.
"And no, Iím 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. "Itís---"
"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 friendís wheelchair, then grew more serious.
"Somethingís up. What is it?"
A long moment passed, and then Barbara let her head fall against
back. "Youíre 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 shouldnít have."
A frown creasing her features, Dinah leaned back against the computer
station, worried now. "What?" Barbara just wasnít one for
doing things she shouldnít. 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 wasnít 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 wasnít something I
planned," Barbara insisted. "It just ... it happened."
She shook her head helplessly. "I shouldnít have ... but I just
... it wasnít like anything Iíve 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 werenít easy
to imagine. "It doesnít matter---" she started to say, but
Dinah cut her off.
"It was the Blue Beetle, wasnít it?" Dinah demanded.
"Because Iíve seen the way he looks at you---"
"No!" Barbara instantly denied the charge in outraged
tones. Sheíd had her chance and while his attention had been
flattering, it wasnít the same thing at all. "Look, itís 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
didnít slow her down. "Yíknow Jason Bardís still in town, and
still has a thing for you---"
Speaking of people sheíd had her shot at and turned away from.
"No," Barbara growled. "Look, I really wish youíd
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, donít be ridiculous!" Barbara all but shouted,
the whole topic getting on her nerves in a fairly severe fashion.
"Heís 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 sheíd 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 whoíd 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 canít 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
blondeís face. "Donít 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 hadnít
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, youíre never going to
figure it out, so why donít you just give it a rest." She
fervently wished sheíd 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 didnít
like being cut out of the loop. And considering some of what Babs had
told her over the years, she couldnít figure out why sheíd keep this
secret. "Babs," she said at last, her tone cautious, "it
is one of the good guys, right?" After all, Barbara wouldnít walk
on the wild side, now would she? Hell, even Dinah hadnít done that ...
much anyway. Okay, so there was that little fling with Ra's Al Ghul, but
sheíd 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 wasnít like every guy out
there was either a hero or a bad guy. Okay, so most of them in her
experience, but thereíd been a chance he was just a normal guy. It
suddenly occurred to her that Barbara hadnít answered and her
expression fell. "Please tell me itís not a bad guy," she
requested in a surprisingly calm voice all things considered.
"Itís-itís not," Barbara responded so haltingly that
Dinah didnít believe a word of it.
"Oh. My. God," Dinah exhaled, completely shellshocked.
"Please tell me itís not Raís 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 wasnít at
all comfortable with that idea.
"Itís not," Barbara insisted.
Dinah was still in shock mode. "Now tell me itís not a bad
guy," she requested in that same, slightly flat tone.
"Actually," Barbara sighed, accepting that she couldnít
play this game any longer and Dinah wasnít going to stop with the
guesses until she learned something more concrete, "itís not a
guy at all."
Dinah blinked, struggling to decode that sentence and come up with
what it might be if it wasnít 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 couldnít 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
couldnít see her friend being swept off her wheels by that sort of
thing. "Then what was it?" she finally found the courage to
Barbaraís head tipped to one side as she considered that question.
"Well, if itís 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, itís not a
something, itís a someone, if that helps."
Dinah still looked blank. If Barbara had ever had any doubts about
her friendís heterosexuality, they were completely quashed. Dinah
apparently couldnít even contemplate the idea. It just didnít
compute for her.
"Itís a woman," Barbara explained at last. Clearly, this
subject wasnít going away, and Dinah wasnít 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, sheís pretty
impressive." As JLA members, theyíd 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.
"Iíve 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 youíre 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 Iím telling you, that woman is very intense
where youíre concerned."
"Because she thinks I got a lot of people killed!" Barbara
"Or maybe itís all frustrated lust---"
"Itís 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 sheíd just
left it alone, but no, Dinah was her best friend, so sheíd let it
slip. "It doesnít matter," she sighed on an exhausted note,
"since itís never going to happen again." She pinched the
bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. "God, I
shouldnít 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
Dinahís voice. "This really has you ripped up."
"It was ... itís ... I donít what I...." Barbara kept
trying and failing to describe her emotions. How could she, when she
didnít 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 friendís closely
watching gaze. "Selina Kyle." She heard Dinahís soft gasp.
"As in Catwoman?"
"Is there another Selina Kyle I donít know about?"
"God, I hope so ... or rather I hope thereís one I donít
know about and thatís who you...." Dinah didnít 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, didnít you? You
slept with Catwoman." Dinah didnít 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
hadnít 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 donít 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 sheíd 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 hadnít 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 donít know," Barbara admitted without looking up. She
thought about it for a long moment. "She might have recognized me
as Batgirl...but I donít 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
wasnít talking about. They worked so closely together, and while Dinah
knew she wasnít 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 didnít answer.
"Babs?" Dinah whispered when Barbara still hadnít 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 didnít speak, afraid of scaring Barbara back into
Barbara took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "What I didnít
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
didnít appear to be ready to continue.
"Something happened," Barbara continued at last. "It
shouldnít 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 didnít even try to look anywhere else. "It
wasnít...simple...and Iíve 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 couldnít finish.
"Babs?" Dinah demanded, looking scared and more than a
little appalled now.
"She touched me," Barbara whispered the hardest words sheíd
ever uttered in her entire life. Sheíd 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. "Iím 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 Iím very mistaken, you just told me the bitch raped you
...and Iím gonna kill her."
"Dinah...no, you canít." Barbara shook her head,
struggling with her own emotions. "It wasnít ...it wasnít 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, Iím
gonna kill the bitch." She had no idea where Selina was, but she
was going to find her---Gotham wasnít that big a city---and then
Selina Kyle was dead. Whatever had happened in that hotel room, clearly,
it hadnít 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 didnít have that problem. Black and white.
"No" equals "no." Dinah was very comfortable with
seeing things that way too. Selina hadnít taken no for an answer.
Specifically, she hadnít 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 sheíd
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 couldnít
Dinah froze, her back to Barbara. "Babs?" she hissed
tightly, unable to believe what sheíd 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 didnít 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 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 donít
know. It scared me so goddamned much I just didnít 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 didnít
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 Kyleís 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 sheíd
entered the Bizarro World sheíd 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 couldnít 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 sheíd ever been in
her life, fully expecting to see---she wasnít sure what---in Dinahís
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 didnít understand at one level. The notion of
being that swept away by attraction to a woman was something she had to
admit, she just didnít 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
youíve 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 shouldnít have let it happen...and itís
never happening again...itís 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
partnerís uncharacteristically flustered response. Dinah knew all
about "forgetting" things like that, and just how thoroughly
that didnít 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 couldnít think of a delicate way to phrase what
she needed to say. "Are you sure thatís the best way to deal with
Green eyes slid closed, and Barbara seemed to shudder gently.
"Itís 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. "Iíve
got Dick in my life...and I...I canít...."
A hint of a frown touching her brow, Dinah watched her friend
closely. Forgetting definitely wasnít going to work. Whatever had
happened between Babs and Selina Kyle had been with the redhead since
she was 19 years old. It wasnít 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 Barbaraís. "Iím not sure thatís the
best approach," she said very softly.
Green eyes swung up, narrowing faintly. "I have to,"
A soft sigh escaped Dinahís lips. "Itís just that," she
began a little hesitantly, "it seems like maybe," boy, she
really didnít know how to say what she was thinking, "your
relationship with Dick...itís kind of...I mean, it seems
Barbara was watching her closely now, which only made Dinah stumble
over her words even worse.
"Itís just that...as long as Iíve known you...even when you
and Dick were together...it just seemed like...yíknow...you werenít
entirely...like you were still looking around...not really all
that...into it...." She stared at her hand where it covered Barbaraís,
totally avoiding her best friendís gaze. "Like you werenít
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 youíre not in love with him...and you never
Barbaraís 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 doesnít mean I
* * * * * *
Selina appears at a party that Barbara is also at...purposely. They
have words, and Selina ultimately sweeps Barbara off. They make love,
line about silk sheets, Selina carries Barbara over the city.
finally gives way when Selina tells her the truth ("Because I
once told you it should have been in a bed with your hair spread over
silk sheets,"), and they make love. Later, they're in the bath
together, Selina holding Barbara close, trading kisses ... Barbara a
little shaken ... bothered that she cheated on Dick, and feeling guilty.
Give Selina the line about silk sheets after their second encounter.
"I knew youíd look good with your hair spread over silk
sheets." Barbara realizes Selina knows she was Batgirl, they
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.