FANDOM: Birds of Prey TV
DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters. They are the property of DC Comics and possibly WB as well. I in any event, they are not mine. Only the plot is. No harm intended and no profit was made in the writing of this fanfic. This is a work of fiction done out of fun and as a fan of the show and the comics.
RATING: NC-17? Actually might be more AA depending on your point of view.
STORY NOTE: This involves some stuff loosely taken from the TV show and from the comics. A blend if you will. My own twisted take on how 'Devil's Eyes' could have happened.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Not for the easily squeamish I imagine, considering the pairing. This is all Trancer's fault by the way. Trancer's and SH. I was so inspired by Trancer's Therapy series and when I mentioned my idea for a story to SH, SH encouraged me unrepentantly. So if I can, I affectionately blame them,';)
To SH: Thanks for the beta, but more importantly for your great sense of humour and ongoing encouragement into theses flights of fancy of mine,';)
DEDICATION: for Part 15: Especially for BG who gave me lots of support, encouragement and kept telling me to stay away from the pc and get my bed rest when I really needed it. All despite wanting this next part badly. I hope it meets with your expectations.
ARCHIVING: If you actually want this bent piece of my imagination than by all means, ask and let me know where.
It hurt. That's the first thing awareness brought her. Pain. Pounding threatened to explode her head. Or implode it. No, it wasn't her head. The noise was coming from outside. Thunder?
"You're finally awake," a relieved voice, female and soft came from her right. A hand as soft as the voice touched her head, a pinch on her arm and much of the pain went away. "That should help the discomfort. They really did a number on you. But you're gong to be fine. Can you hear me? Why don't you open those gorgeous eyes of yours? I so missed looking into them."
The tone was soothing and alluring. And the pain had receded. She relaxed and blinked several times, letting her vision clear. A lovely bedroom, with lovely green silk drapes and green silk sheets that she was on and under. And a lovely woman perched on the edge of a chair beside her. The light was dim and though she could clearly make out that the woman had rich brown eyes and short blonde hair, it seemed to her that the hair should be dark, the eyes light, and that intriguingly arched eyebrow should have a scar. But the moment passed.
"Where-?" Her throat was dry and the word scratched her.
"Here, hold on. Don't push yourself. Let me take care of it." Eagerly the woman, Harleen the woman recalled, that was her name, also known as Harley Quinn, fetched her a glass of water. Harleen then gently helped her sit up and lean against the blonde's frame. Tender hands held the cup and assisted her to take a sip. Drinking the cool liquid down, the woman realized she knew much more than Harleen's name and alias. She also knew every crime, her education, her birthday. Even the number of her driver's licence. She knew her height, weight and shoe size. What was she doing in the bedroom of a criminal?
"Better?" Hopeful dark eyes looked deeply into hers.
"Yes." It was. The words didn't hurt to try to speak anymore. She decided to try it. "Harleen," she spoke the name, feeling it out, "what am I doing here?"
The woman frowned, and even that seemed pretty to the wounded woman in the green bed. "You don't remember? That bump on your head was even harder than I realized. You must be suffering temporary amnesia. Especially if you're calling me Harleen. You never call me that."
No? The woman wondered. "What do I usually call you?"
"Harley, of course. But I guess it's not of course for you now is it? Do you know who you are?"
That stopped her. She looked down at her hands, her body. She was in fairly good shape it seemed, except..."My legs...I can't feel them." Anxiety bloomed in her but suddenly abated. Yes, she was, had been for over seven years. "I remember..something...an accident...?" She had a vague recollection of a memory. Something about a gun shot and a bat symbol. Fear. And blood.
Harley's features darkened. "It was no accident. Batman sent her do that to you on purpose. He almost took you away from me. By sending her out after you."
The tone was fierce. The eyes darker. Harley meant it. But who was this woman that Batman had sent?
"Batgirl. She shot you."
"It made sense. The symbol. The gun shots. Bleeding on the floor...If only she could remember things. A fog that she couldn't break.
"Don't worry." Harley reassured her. "I took care of her. She'll never hurt you again. I got you back. I always get you back."
The smile was warm and bright and a little crazy, but what wasn't? " Who am I?" she asked the woman devotedly stroking her hair. And she liked that , it felt nice.
"You, my dear woman, are the love of my life." The smile was playful and naughty and fun. The woman couldn't help but respond to it.
Harley fished into a drawer. "You know what a sucker I am for green. My favourite colours. Red and green. Here." The sweet blonde handed the mirror over to her.
She took it gingerly and stared at herself. The features all seemed familiar but nothing, no name, no dates, no memories of herself clearly sprung. The only thing that seemed real was the touch of the other woman's hand on her arm. It was Harley who spoke. "Red and green. How could I ever resist a woman with such beautiful, long red hair and such rare green eyes. You know I've always had a soft spot for you..."
The kiss surprised her. The lips were so soft. Like satin, like the silk sheets she lay on. She liked the shiver it chased down her body. "..all for you," Harley continued after breaking away, "my sweet Poison Ivy."
Thunder rolled. A storm brewed nearby, coming closer.
It was going to be a dark and stormy night.
Harley had changed.
Ivy wasn't sure she liked it.
Of course it wasn't like she remembered how exactly they had been together in the past, but like the myriad of facts and knowledge that permeated her mind, she knew that before the cataclysm Harley had been her go to girl and that she, Ivy, had been the one in charge.
Ivy didn't like the change, memory or no.
She tapped her laptop thoughtfully, punched in a few keys. Like everything else, she didn't remember how she learned to do what she was ding. She just knew. And she did it.
Keys in the door. Harley home. But Ivy knew that. Ivy knew it before Harley had even driven up the street to take the off road up to their secluded home, because Ivy had hacked into the police road surveillance as well as that of nearby stores, had hacked even into the phone system and a satellite or two, to be able to have a GPS trace on Harley's cell phone. She was learning that there were a lot of things she could do besides grow plants.
"Darling?" Harley called from the entryway.
"In here," Ivy tried not to let that one side of her lip curl up in a smirk but it was hard. "How was your day Harl?"
"Could have been better. Being the Queen of New Gotham's criminal underground can be trying."
"Good help is hard to find." Ivy smiled up as the woman rounded the corner and leaned down to kiss her. It was a sweet caress of parted lips, a warm hand in her long hair. Ivy reached up and felt Harley's short soft blonde locks, pulled back as they parted to trace that mouth with her long fingers.
"I do like what you do with that mouth of yours." It was true. Harley was an excellent kisser. She could lead or follow. And when she moved that mouth on Ivy's skin, Ivy was finding it harder and harder to not let things go further. She didn't know enough yet. And there were advantages to having what someone else wanted. Harley wanted Ivy. Ivy wanted all the cards.
And she'd have Harley too.
"What have you been doing all day?" Harley smiled down at her, running her hands through those long strands of crimson hair. A favorite pastime of hers.
"Oh, just playing on the computer." Ivy drawled the words casually, though there was nothing casual in the covert way she watched the blonde woman's reactions.
"That again? What you see in those fuddy duddy things is beyond me." Harley's hand trailed lower, rubbing the seam of Ivy's green shirt between thumb and forefinger. The area was between the buttons exactly between Ivy's breasts. It didn't surprise Ivy. She was learning Harley did nothing, not the most casual seeming act, without an agenda. There was nothing haphazard in that touch, no matter how well Harley played the game.
Ivy could play it better.
She turned the laptop around for Harley to get a look at the screen. "I don't know Harl, you can do so many things when you let go and let your fingers do the walking."
Pale blonde brows lowered, a frown. Harley looked over and then her eyes widened slightly. She tried to cover her surprise and her anger. Yes, Ivy was sure of it. In the way the skin tightened around Harley's eyes and mouth, Harley Quinn was caught off guard and she was not pleased.
Ivy had to fight that smirk from escaping her again. "Fascinating how quickly news is updated on the net these days, isn't it?" She continued feigning a mild, barely interested tone. "Just earlier today there was a botched holdup at the New Gotham Bank. Burglars tried to make off with over one million dollars. Sad really, all three criminals were never more than thugs and were incompetent. Got caught. Got killed. So sad." Okay, so she was smirking a little.
Harley stalked away from her, annoyed. "I do what I can but you don't know how it is out there Ivy! 'Good help' you said, it's harder to find than you think."
"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." Ivy's smirk was growing. She plinked a couple of keys and tapped the screen to get Harley to look at it.
Harley stopped her pacing and went over to the table. She looked at the screen. Eyes widened and she read it through again. "This is a joke. You're trying to be funny?" She glanced to Ivy for confirmation.
Green eyes twinkled. "Not at all. My girl needed cash. All I did was do a little hacking here, a bit of cracking there and suddenly the New Gotham Bank's accounts were there, before my eyes. All I did was take a little and put it through a few dummy transfers, a couple of untraceable lines and now it sits in our account, safe and sound."
"A wee amount." Harley breathed in awe. "That's more than five million dollars. They'll notice it."
"They can't trace it." She told her in with complete confidence. "Besides, I took it from a really fat cat. It's nothing compared to their quarterly deposits."
A blonde brow arched, "Where?"
"I hacked into Wayne Industries' accounts." A lie, sort of. But that was a puzzle Ivy would be keeping to herself for now.
"You are a marvel." Harley, shimmied in her red short skirt and silk blouse and sat herself down on Ivy's lap. "And here I was thinking you'd be growing more herbs and flowers. I mean really Ivy, what's the sense of having the name 'Poison' if you don't make anything poisonous?"
Ivy laughed. The herb garden was a project, a test of her skills. She found she knew almost everything about anything, she just had no memory of how or when she learned things. Like photosynthesis, different and rare types of flora and horticulture. She also knew every poisonous compound in her repertoire and all the elements in them, and their anti-venoms. Again, with no memory. "I just like the flowers Harl, they're pretty. And the herbs were for cooking. I was tired of takeout." Besides, there was so many things more poisonous than a simple deadly flower.
Harley hummed that she was listening, all the while unbuttoning Ivy's blouse. Hands began to wander over her dark green bra. Ivy's body tightened in response. Still, Ivy had a question.
"Why aren't I poisonous to the touch anymore?"
"Hmm?" Harley slid off her lap and knelt down in front of her, intent on paying loving attention to all that creamy skin and those sensitive breasts. Intent on distracting the red haired woman. "Oh, you found the cure for that after the cataclysm. You used that lovely scientific mind of yours and eventually came up with an anti-dote for all those toxins. But trust me dear," Harley slid down and ran her wet, hot tongue up Ivy's stomach, causing the other woman to shiver and her nipples to ache, "you're as intoxicating as ever."
Teasingly, Harley took a stiffened nipple into her mouth through the silk bra. The friction of the damp fabric and muted suction and raking teeth caused Ivy to press the blonde head closer and arch into that perfect mouth. Even as she gave up to the sensations, her mind still raced and zinged and zagged.
She couldn't recall any formula to cure herself. Here, the woman who had no memory but could recall every fact, couldn't recall one as crucial as that. Which meant one thing.
Harley was lying.
She would have to be careful. The psychiatrist/sociopath was clever, maybe even in some ways as smart as herself. And the years of running New Gotham had given Harley an edge, a strength, a hardness that Ivy would have to watch and work around very, very carefully. Harley had her secrets. And so did Ivy.
After all, Ivy had no clue how she knew all of Wayne's Industries' passwords. She hadn't needed to hack into a single part of it.
But first things first.
She moaned and felt more than heard it's twin from the blonde woman. Felt it through her skin and nerves to feel it deep in her core. She used a grip, aikido her mind supplied the information after she did it. Another couple of moves, and she had Harley laid out before her on the table. A simple push up with her arms and she was sliding her body over a very shocked Harley's.
She claimed the woman's mouth aggressively, thrusting her tongue inside, making the blonde take most of her body weight. Within seconds, Harley forgot to protest the change in position, let alone anything else. She was quickly begging Ivy to do things to her that Ivy thought sounded very good. Especially now. Harley might think it was only for the moment but Ivy knew better.
Ivy was on top. And she planned on staying there.
Another week and Ivy's frustration was only building. The tension between her and Harley was escalating, and not in the way it had been. She had almost stopped giving into any of Harley's advances, let alone initiating any of her own, a fact not lost on Harley.
The blonde woman paced around the other side of the room, stalling occasionally to glance at her. Ivy felt it every time the woman looked at her. It felt like a touch. And not a welcome one.
Ivy let out a vexated breath and removed her glasses, tossing them more roughly than was wise onto the table next to her laptop. She wasn't looking at the screen anymore anyway. "I told you before Harley, it's distracting when you sulk around me while I'm trying to get work done."
Harley, for all her diminutive form, strode powerfully towards the table. An undeniable presence, but an unwelcome one right now. She slapped her palm on the table and leaned towards Ivy and stare into sparking green eyes. "You don't want to talk, you don't want to be close, and now you don't even want me in the same room as you? I saved your life and this is what I get? You're the one who's sulking."
"No," she enunciated very precisely, with an edge. "I'm getting angry Harley. Is that what you want? To make me angry?"
There it was. A flare behind those dark eyes. Ivy was fairly sure Harley's tastes ran into pain but this was the first affirmation she'd won, however indirectly. Harley leaned in further, her sweet breath and pleasant perfume filling Ivy's senses. "If I did make you angry," the woman's voice turned part sensuality and part curious amusement, "what would you do to me?"
Ivy gave her an unkind look and a smirk of her own. "Nothing. Because you hate being ignored more than anything else."
Harley pushed away from her abruptly. Angry. "Too well Ivy. You know me too well." A moment, then she turned back towards the red haired beauty. "But I know you. It's being cooped up that's putting you in a foul mood isn't it?"
"Of course it is!" Ivy snapped, playing her cards carefully. It was easier to manipulate when it was the truth she could use. "You tell me I have to lay low. That the police might pick me up. But I need to do something Harl!"
Coyly, her head tilted towards Ivy but not quite meeting her eyes, Harley said softly, wistfully, "It's such a shame you can't plan a heist to go out on with me. Like the old days. Even if you can't remember then, you'd at least have memories of us now. You'd be able to go out, have fun like we used to. Terrorize the sheep as it were."
"Fun," her anger relented at the desire for a respite from this sensation of being trapped. "I definitely would like that."
"There's something I haven't told you. Something I've hidden from you." Harley confessed, sad and with guilt. But Ivy wasn't fooled. She was sure this was staged as carefully as everything Harley did. If she confessed, it was only because the sly blonde found it was time to use what bit of truth, or lie, she would reveal.
"What is it Harley?" Ivy schooled her voice to be hurt, angry and curious all at once. She felt there were many things Harley kept from her. The questions Ivy wanted to know weren't only the 'what', but even more so the 'why' which would answer a great deal more for her.
"Hold on, I'll get it." Harley left to another room. She came back quicker than Ivy would have thought, for she had searched the lavish apartment many times looking for clues and had come up empty.
"This is yours. It was with you when you were hurt." Harley placed the device on the table.
Ivy pushed her laptop away and took the odd and large metal disc, mindful of the thick cords coming out of it. She examined every inch of it. Her mind tugged at a memory that would not come, but the knowledge of the device did. "It's a neural coupler." She breathed, her mind racing with the possibilities.
"I think," Harley told her worried, "I think it helped you to walk."
"It did." Some other bit of knowledge came to her. "I made it."
"Before you ask," the older woman began, "the reason I kept this from you was -"
"That it hurt me. You were angry about my using it." It was there, a shadow of a memory nothing more. A woman kneeling in front of Ivy, pleading with her not to use it. But she couldn't make out the image, the person or even the voice. It all became images of Harley. She was sure that there was someone who had feared for her, cared for her, fought with her about this device. Who else could it be but Harley? Duplicitous though she was, she was devoted and had put up with every bout of Ivy's temper. Harley who took care of her when she had been injured. Harley who never became frustrated at Ivy's lack of regaining her memory.
"I was wrong to deny you the choice to use it Ivy. I am sorry. I would never do anything to hurt you. Can you use it still?"
Ivy put her glasses back on and studied the coupler in earnest. "Give me a bit and we'll see." She couldn't help the excitement lacing her voice.
Harley heard it. The blonde woman was far more astute than Ivy found comfortable, but she did find it challenging and Ivy liked the challenge. Harley came closer, "So you're not mad at me anymore?"
"No. Especially if I can get this working again." True. She longed for wind in her hair and to roam outdoors.
Arms wrapped around her neck from behind and Harley's voice nearly purred in her ear. "Then if it works, you and me could go out and have a little fun on the town. Like the old days. A bank. A gala. A shopping spree with some mayhem. You name it Ivy, and we'll do it. You and me out in the night like it should be."
Lips grazed the smooth column of Ivy's throat, causing a shiver and an intimate chuckle from Harley at the effect she was having on her. "A night on the town. I definitely love the sound of that."
She glanced at Harley and in that close distance she saw the deep longing and the building excitement in those rich dark eyes. Excitement she knew was mirrored in her own face. They both smiled and she could see in the reflection of that gaze that they wore the same one, filled with thoughts of laying the world at their feet for their own amusement. Let the people of New Gotham beware.
Harley and Ivy were back.
Ivy stood on the ledge of the high building, breathing in the night air. She loved this. The sense of freedom of running rooftops and flying through the sky on cables. She could feel Harley's stare as if the other woman were trying to penetrate and see into her being. Ivy smirked knowing Harley couldn't see. The smirk or the rest. Though the blond was overly appreciative of the outfit. She had said so only once but the way her eyes had traveled up the dark green knee high boots, the leather pants also dark green, and the form fitting long sleeved shirt with the neck covered, all received a sensual appraisal from Ivy's counterpart. She had even been impressed with Ivy's additions. The bullet proof material even NASA didn't have, only a few very covert, not necessarily legal, branches of government both here and abroad. It coated her entire costume. And, being cautious, Ivy had added extra armor to the shirt, using the intricate leaf pattern found there to hide any signs of the moulding. And the better to hide her newly improved neural coupler. Harley had raised an eyebrow at the coat though.
The red haired woman couldn't explain it. When they were shopping she had seen a black leather duster. Her hand reached out unconsciously to touch it. It stirred unrecognizable emotions in her. But no memories. Still none. Black wasn't quite to her taste, not with her name. The coat kept calling her back though. If only she could recall why. But she could not afford her curiosity. It was a distraction. Nevertheless, the whim would not release her until she had bought its green twin. A green so dark it was nearly black. It made her feel more comfortable. As if a black leather duster were familiar to her. It had its advantages despite the obvious. It helped, after her modifications, to provide another layer of amour. It had another advantage besides protection, it also hid the neural coupler along her lower back. And a third advantage.
Ivy turned and looked back at where Harley crouched, all red and black diamond shapely outfit, counting the money they had recently extracted from a large bank. The way Quinn watched her, as if entranced by every line of her body, every sweep of her cloak. Yes, there were advantages to Ivy's choices. Ivy knew how dramatic the coat was with its ends flapping back and to the sides like leather wings. Like a bat. It made Ivy smile.
Harley watched Ivy's body move in all that leather and a hunger lay there, one that was not sated. One that Ivy had refused so far to satisfy or act on. She preferred to feed it, tease it. Wind Harley up and never quite give in enough. Again, she did not know why she enjoyed having the upper hand on the woman. But she did. She liked the power. She intended to keep it.
A perfectly shaped blond brow rose at Ivy's silence. "Aren't you even going to ask me how much?"
Indifferent, Ivy shrugged. "It would only be one hundredth of what I manage to skim from the accounts of fat cat business men. Petty change really."
"This way is much more fun." Harley's lips pursed, her dark eyes shone.
Ivy recalled the rush of entering the bank, of taking control of the floor, but something was missing. Or perhaps it simply wasn't enough. Not enough risk. She had more fun scaling buildings and swinging through the night air, riding the wind. She went back to the ledge.
Harley's voice floated over. "Perhaps you shouldn't stand so far over the edge. Someone might spot you. The police might be alerted."
She shook her head, her dark red hair brushing her cheeks and along her shoulders. "Oh Harley, we had your toadies go to two other banks at the same time as our heist. The New Gotham P.D. are likely frantically running around in circles right now."
The disapproval in Harley's voice was as clear as the cold touch of the wind on Ivy's face. "Some of those so called toadies will probably get caught. You should have let them have guns."
Ivy's jaw set, her tone hardened. "We didn't need them. No guns Harley. I mean it." Never.
As with any of their arguments, Harley's tone turned passive, pliant. "I know you do. But they aren't like us. There is no one like us. You can't expect normals to make do on their own."
"Then they're pawns to be sacrificed." Ivy stated it cold. It wouldn't do to have Harley know Ivy didn't want death on her hands, that she didn't want to kill, didn't like it.
Harley narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. "It's like everything to you is a game with ulterior motives. This isn't chess. What if they talk to the cops?"
"What if they do?" Ivy drawled, amused, smirking again, knowing Harley could hear it in her voice.
Heels ticked and tocked on the flat roof as Harley approached Ivy from behind. "You planned on them getting caught. You did this on purpose."
"Isn't that the point of a plan? Doing things on purpose?" Her mask was beginning to feel tight on her skin around the eyes. She was glad she only wore a mask covering that. Ivy could only imagine what a full hood would have felt like. Confining. And the last thing she wanted was to be confined.
Harley touched her arm, urged Ivy to look at her. Dark eyes tried to read Ivy's. Ivy enjoyed her attempts. "You know what I mean Ivy. You let my men get caught. You want them to talk."
"You don't need them." Ivy told her. It was true, the men were useless. Just muscle. Cannon fodder. They didn't need muscle, and Ivy didn't plan on standing in front of any cannons.
"I need only you, is that it?" Harley would keep doing this, lapse back to the psychiatrist trying to get a handle on Ivy, read her motives. Read her emotions for Harley.
Ivy didn't answer her question but looked back out onto the lights of New Gotham. "I want the world to know who this town belongs to."
Harley smiled. It made her look younger, and cruel. "As of tonight the whole world will know that Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are back. Let the world beware."
Ivy looked out over the city. Her city. Yes, let the world beware. And anyone who'd dare stand against her.
Ivy leaned back in her wheelchair and stared at the computer screen. She called up image after image, but it always came back to the one freeze-frame security video image she had scanned and enlarged. It still didn't give her the detail she wanted.
To her credit, despite her concentration on the screen, Ivy heard Harley approach. She turned her head to watch the blond woman enter the office. A large dinning room which Ivy had now converted into a lab and computer den of intricate and massive proportions. Harley, for some reason, seemed constantly curious about what she called Ivy's 'Fortress of Solitude', while being wary, reluctant to enter. Nevertheless, curiosity this night must have won out because Harley came in, wearing only a crimson bath robe. The silk hung off her shoulders, barely covering her breasts. The end of the cloth slid behind Harley's feet like a writhing snake entering Ivy's space, her fortress.
Ivy clicked another window up to cover the image she had been staring at for the last hour. It wouldn't do to spoil the surprise.
"I'm not sure about the change of color." Harley commented about the new paint on the walls. She had commented on it before. She likely would again.
"I like the color violet. I'm tired of all the green." Ivy told her again. As she would later, when Harley would raise the topic again. Dependable that way, Harley was. What the woman was fishing for, Ivy couldn't guess. Yet.
"It's more blue than violet." Harley prowled around the room, touching nothing except her own skin. Hands to her shoulders, fingers tracing down to her breasts, the creamy flesh exposed to Ivy's watching eyes. "Why don't you come to bed?"
"I've been doing some research." Ivy told her, not quite answering the question. "It's been very intriguing."
"How so?" Harley's bedroom eyes skirted to the side as she stepped closer to the red head.
Three weeks since they had begun their rain of terror on New Gotham. The wall in the kitchen was covered with newspaper clippings about Harley and Ivy's exploits. Every newspaper had put them on page one. "The decoy tactics I've been using. There have been some discrepancies in the police reports that piqued my curiosity."
She glanced up at Harley, offered her a hand. "Why don't you come closer and I'll show you what I've found." She wanted Harley closer, to have her see the evidence. And for her to see Harley's reactions up close.
With a silky smile and a smooth movement, Harley took the hand and came close, closer. Ivy allowed the kiss when it happened. She even slipped a hint of tongue to trace Harley's lower lip briefly before she disengaged and turned to the screen, keeping a sharp eye on the blonde leaning so close to her.
She called up the image and turned the screen towards the blonde's gaze. Pointed with a slim finger to the enlarged image. The image she had taken from the West Bank's video security camera feed. The one that, though blurred, showed the form of a female figure, hair dark and short, wearing what seemed to be a long, dark trench coat . Leather. Ivy would bet her computer it was black and it was leather.
Ivy watched every nuance of emotion that played out on Harley's face. The widening eyes of recognition, the quick narrowing of them to cover it up. The tightening of the lines around Harley's mouth, the thinning of her lips. Anger. The flash in those dark eyes may have been that, or even more. Perhaps hatred.
When Harley turned fully to Ivy, her face was a smooth mask of indifference. "Some vigilante who dreams of being the next Batman? Or a thief ticked off at being cut off at the pass? Who knows." The blonde added a shrug to add to the indifference she strongly conveyed with her words. Too strongly. You never have to work so hard when you have nothing to hide.
"If you say so." And this time Ivy pulled the other woman down for a kiss. "I was just curious. How about you warm up that bed. I'll be there in a minute after I finish up here."
A different flash burned in those dark eyes now. "I'll look forward to it. Don't be too long." Harley walked away, her every movement sinewy and elegant.
Ivy turned away from watching her, lest Harley turn and see the hardness in green eyes. Harley kept secrets. Ones that belonged to Ivy, she was certain. And she had just found a clue to them. "I'm one step behind you, darling."
Alone again, she looked back at the screen, her fingers tracing the outline of the woman there, wishing she could reach in past two dimensional to something she could touch. She wished the image was in color and that the woman giving a round house kick to the robber had been facing the camera. But what few images she had of the woman facing towards the camera were blurred beyond recognition. The woman moved too fast for the camera to grab. Faster than human. Ivy wanted to know things, secrets being kept from her. Harley had been the only key to Ivy's past. Until now.
She wondered if the woman on the screen had blue-violet eyes and a scar crossing one eyebrow.
A smile, cruel and bewitching, crossed her face. One that, if Harley saw it, she would know to be afraid.
It was time for Ivy to arrange an invitation.
Entering the museum was so easy it would have bored Ivy, except that she had other things to look forward to. This was a means to her end and she didn't lose sight of that. Harley could be distracted, but Ivy didn't lose her own focus. She didn't dare.
They slipped in from cables through a sky window. The place was dark. The security guards were taken care of by a benign sleep gas Ivy had entered in the air conditioning system. It had then merely been a matter of waiting for the gas to quickly dissipate and, guarded with the antidotes, they had the run of the place. And Ivy was in complete control. The way she liked it.
They each dropped to the well polished marble floor of the dimly lit room. Classic antiquities. Greek, Ivy's brain supplied. They were surrounded by statues of all kinds.
"A second century Greek bronze." Ivy commented, looking at a majestic figure of a woman with a javelin. "Kinda classy."
An odd look from Harley made her ask, "What is it?"
Blood short hair shook with the head movement as Harley brushed Ivy off. "Nothing. It just didn't really sound like a comment you would make. At least not in that manner."
Ivy shrugged. "Well, since I don't remember what I was like or how I talked before I woke up over a month ago, I'm sure I'll say a lot of things uncommon to the person I used to be." The last words were laced with anger. Ivy clenched her jaw. It was unacceptable for her to lose control. Especially when she felt she was about to gain a crucial key.
Harley hadn't noticed, she was too busy looking around the place. "You're sure you cut all of the alarms?"
"Do you hear any?" And Ivy smirked, knowing it would irritate the blonde.
The look she received was not friendly. "I meant the silent alarms."
"Of course." Ivy drawled, pleased at the deception, particularly in that she was telling the truth. Just not all of it.
Watching the blonde in her red and black suit, trying to appear in charge tickled Ivy. The red head couldn't resist adding to the woman's temperamental state of mind. "You know, Harl, you were so much less uptight when you were just someone's flunkey, his sidekick."
Harley surprised her, coming up to her and ramming Ivy up against the cold marble wall. Hard. "I'm not the Joker's anything anymore." She hissed at Ivy, pressing the length of her body tightly against Ivy's taller, green clad one. "I'm no one's sidekick now. Not even yours. Got me?"
"I've got you." Ivy replied smugly. "You're just so easy to wind up Harl, how can I resist?"
The violent response may have surprised Ivy, but it also pleased her. Another weak point for her partner, Harley didn't like being reminded of how small she had felt in the past. It was always useful to know a person's weak points.
It took a moment, but Harley relented, allowing Ivy to move away from her. Ivy didn't. That seemed to make the blonde's mood happy again. She lightly ran a finger along Ivy's upturned lips. "You really are quite the match for me."
"I certainly hope so."
Harley looked like she wanted to close the short distance between them and kiss her. Instead she moved away, "We're on a schedule. We'd best get moving."
Prudently, Ivy hid her growing smirk. Her partner tried so hard to take control. "You're right." She allowed the illusion for the older woman. "You have your map? You know where to go?"
"Yes, yes. All sorts of precious trinkets for which to buy myself all sorts of lovely things. Like a better computer system for you to plan and commit more lovely crimes with. Who knew crime was so expensive?" Harley grinned, taking away any possible criticism to the words.
"Well, to commit perfect crimes you need perfect tools. We have a reputation to uphold." And that wasn't a lie either. Ivy loved the way a well placed strategy came together. Loved seeing it implemented.
Her eager grin was matched by Harley, but for different reasons. "I'll get my treasures while you collect the ones in the other wing, and we'll meet back here in ten minutes."
"I'll see you soon." Ivy watched as Harley practically danced away skipping. The woman loved crime. Though earlier it had taken a lot of arguing to convince Harley that they wouldn't not kill the guards. She waited until Harley was well out of sight before Ivy moved amongst the statues. She had no intention of going to the west wing of the museum. Not when she was waiting to see if the bait she'd created would work.
With each passing second, Ivy's anticipation twisted into anxiety. She blended in with the statues keeping herself perfectly still, waiting. Hoping. Dreading. What if the woman didn't show? What if she didn't have the answers Ivy needed? Ivy wanted to know why she felt so angry, so much of everything. Scars lay heavy on her heart, so deep they were buried in her chest. She felt them itch and burn as if they've been opened and festering since her first memory of waking. But she didn't know what the wounds were from, or why they lay open. Why she felt so free when she ran along rooftops at night, but so trapped by the look of desire in Harley's eyes. Or why a certain gaze of a woman she had never met haunted her dreams.
A hand grabbed her neck, forcing her head back painfully, while her arm was twisted sharply behind her back and a form moulded itself to her from behind. Ivy would have fought back but the first words snarled low into her ear held a tone of familiarity that sent shivers racing down her skin.
"Waiting for me?" The female voice asked, teasing and threatening all at once.
The woman's silent approach and being able to ambush Ivy so efficiently impressed her. Ivy fought down on her instincts to use her skills and dislodge the person's hold but her attacker was pressing too tightly against Ivy's windpipe for her to be able to do more than rasp her reply. "Yes."
She needed to see if it was the woman in her dreams. And being held captive like this wasn't accomplishing that. A twist, the use of her hip and momentum and she managed to dislodge the woman with a judo move combined with some Korean techniques. She suddenly damned the dim night lighting of the museum. They were both too thickly hidden in its shadows. And she needed to see.
The woman moved in a trench coat. She stalked in a circle like a panther playing with its prey. "What's the matter?" That voice taunted, so familiar it was driving Ivy mad. "Cat got your tongue? After all, you wanted company didn't you? I mean, you went to all this trouble, setting off a high pitched alarm that only someone other than the cops, someone meta like me could hear. And then there was the sky light window open for anyone prone to strolling rooftops in the dead of night to find. Kinda open invitation. So what is it you want?"
Ivy stood in the semi-light, her colors of red and green visible to the eye. Her throat still hurt from the other woman's hold. "You."
The woman came into the light then, hissed upon seeing her fully. "You're Poison Ivy. Quinn's old flame." And there she was, the woman that had teased Ivy's dreams at night. Now she was here, dream made flesh of shadows and fire. Dark hair, short and wild, matching wicked eyes. Eyes that were more blue than violet even as they snapped into vertical slits of fury.
The attack was sudden and violent, but something in Ivy was ready for it, had read it in her opponent. She blocked and ducked and twisted from punches and kicks that came in a flurry at her. Just like the words that were being thrown out at her, like blows if only they had meaning for her.
"You don't know how unlucky you are." The woman told her fiercely. "I've been hunting Quinn down for over a month now and you're going to be the one who leads me right to her. She'll tell me where Oracle is or I'll rip you into pieces with pleasure."
Oracle. A name. And the woman knew Quinn. Knew her and hated her bitterly. Quinn hurt the woman somehow. Only personal pain inflicted can evoke that kind of bitter response and such fury. Wrath.
Ivy needed more.
It was easier than she thought to get a hold of the other woman, as if Ivy knew every move the other woman would make before she made it. Knew her inside out physically. The fight itself had a familiarity to it. Almost but not quite. She needed to know and she wouldn't be able to hold out forever against the dark woman's onslaught. She put her knowledge to that use, dodging a kick, blocking a thrown punch to turn the woman's body closer and off balance so that they were both in the next instant on the floor. In less than a second, Ivy had the woman pinned, a leg lock below and the arms twisted across the other woman's chest with Ivy pressing down using her weight to help pin the woman. This close she could see the scar crossing one eyebrow. And those bow shaped lips were more tempting that sin itself. It surprised Ivy how much she wanted to kiss the woman.
"I like to dance. But it's rude not to give introductions first." Ivy said, excited by thrills the contact of their bodies sent racing along her senses. "You know my name, but I don't know yours."
An unexpected reaction, utter stillness from the woman below. The blue-violet eyes widened and all struggle ceased. The woman stared up at her in shock when Ivy spoke. Disbelief and pain filled her face, "Barbara?"
Ivy smirked down at the woman. "Do you always give your name as a question?" Although she was disappointed, the name rang no bells, nor did it seem to suit the fierce woman beneath her.
"No," Barbara gasped, staring up at her, tears filling her eyes. "That's not-"
"Huntress." A third voice hissed from their far left.
Both Ivy and the woman, Barbara, turned their heads to see Harley practically running to them.
Hands moved along Ivy's sides, up her back, touching her neural coupler.
"It is you." The dark woman whispered aching.
"I like you touching me." Ivy told the pained young woman, "but not there." She stood, Barbara a fluid shadow following her.
"Don't you know who I am?" This Barbara person said, reaching out to touch Ivy's face. The hand shook. "Don't you know who you are?"
Harley was upon them. Barbara dodged Harley's kick. The movement put Harley between them, effectively separating them both. "The lady is with me. Where are your manners Helena? Don't tell me you need more therapy." The voice was laced with cruelty.
The dark woman crouched, ready to spring. The growl was low and frightened Ivy who hadn't felt frightened by anything. But what she found odd was that her fear was for Helena, Huntress, or Barbara, whatever name she went by.
"I've had more than enough of your therapy doc. I owe you pain. And you'll tell me what you did with her or else I'll-"
"What?" Harley's laugh cut with sharp malice. "Kill me? Against your super hero credo isn't it? That's what lost you your precious heart's desire to begin with now isn't it? You should have killed me when you had the chance. Helena, you should have let her. But no, had to be do-gooder for her and look where it got you: alone."
"Better than dead, which is where you'll be in two seconds." The woman rose from her crouch. She hadn't taken two steps towards them before Harley pulled the gun.
"Now, now Helena," Harley waved the gun between the three of them instead of pointing it at the woman. She was playing with her. Ivy wondered why. Who this woman was to Harley that it evoked such venom from her blond counterpart. "We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt."
Trapped. Ivy couldn't say anything yet about the gun, not in front of this stranger. She felt compelled to back her partner up. As best she could. She'd remonstrate with her partner later.
"You're so possessive Helena. So jealous." The blonde continued while being watched warily from both sides. "But you had your chance with me and you blew it. Don't blame me for your short comings now. You have only yourself to blame."
"What," Helena enunciated with precise fury, "have you done with her?"
"I found someone better than a mere replacement for you. Someone who would fulfill the promise of violence in them, be everything I need. And she's so much better than you would ever have been. After all, I saw who was on top." The blonde smiled, and it was the most unpleasant expression Ivy felt she must have ever seen. "I had a feeling Ivy would prove to be your superior...in every way."
"You won't leave with her." This Helena vowed, all menace and darkness gathering to strike.
"All this time my dear, and you still underestimate me." Harley threw something. A hiss and Ivy knew it for what it was, a gas grenade. It was tear gas. They had to run before they were blinded. And she hadn't even begun to get her answers yet.
Harley and Ivy ran down the hall and through the museum to their escape vehicle outside. The curses and coughing of the mystery woman was left behind, lost in the smoke. With each step, Ivy's anger grew.
They were already on the road before Ivy spoke the first words between them since the dark woman had shown up.
"We're going home Harley, and when we do, you're going to tell me everything about that woman back there. Starting with her name."
Harley didn't say a word, a thoughtful turn to the thinning lines of her mouth. She may have taunted the dark woman and seemed nonchalant in the museum, but it was clear to Ivy that Harley was furious. And uneasy. Her feelings for their opponent ran deep. Whatever they were. But Ivy would find out.
It's said that the truth has two faces. Harley was one. Thinking back on the woman who had recognized her voice, knew she wore a neural coupler to walk, and ached for her, Ivy was certain she had found the other face.
By the time they arrived back at their hideout, Ivy seethed with anger. Her evening plans had been thwarted by Harley's too early interruption. And now that she knew the blonde with all certainty had been keeping secrets from her, Ivy had to bite the inside of her cheek hard to keep from saying anything prematurely. They needed to get indoors and away from any eyes. Her back hurt and Ivy wanted nothing more than to tear off her costume and take a long, solitary shower but she didn't dare give Harley that much time to think up more lies.
At the door, she held it open for the blonde woman who strived, and failed, to look chastised. As soon as they were both in, Ivy slammed it shut. To her satisfaction, Harley jumped at the sound.
"I want all of it Harley," and if ever her voice held iron it was now. "Everything about that woman starting with her name, how you first met and who she is to you. And you're going to tell me this instant."
Harley glanced away for her, paced around the room. When she spoke, she deliberately met and tried to hold Ivy's gaze. All sincerity, was her Harley. "You're right. I should have told you when you showed me the image of her from the bank camera. But she's in my past Ivy, you have to believe me. She's no threat to us. To you."
"No," Ivy told her coldly, "the only one that woman wanted to get her hands on was you. You're not telling me everything Harl. Stop trying to spin it and just spit it out instead."
Dark eyes flashed at Ivy. Ivy didn't heed the warning. She needed to know about the woman with the dark hair and violet-blue eyes. It gaped inside her like an opened wound, raw and painful.
"Fine." And Harley's voice had a hardness in it Ivy hadn't heard before. "Her name is Helena Kyle. She, as you saw, is a crime fighting vigilante by the name of Huntress. She goes by a code name but no masks. Always a pile of contradictions, our Helena."
Ivy didn't interrupt, so Harley continued. "I met her a year ago while I was sidelining my criminal plans with my hobby: psychiatry. She was mandated to therapy by the court. Anger issues." A smile curled Harley's lips upwards. Ivy didn't like that smile. "As soon as I saw her I knew she could be better than great, better than even...him. A better match for me. She had such violence in her Ivy, and yet intelligence, grace, beauty. I wanted her." The admission stark, the smile gone. "And I almost had her. Almost. She's Selina Kyle's daughter and Bruce Wayne's illegitimate heir. Do you know who they are?"
Information crowded in Ivy's mind. "Selina was Catwoman. Bruce is the billionaire owner of Wayne Industries." And Batman, Ivy thought, a fact she knew Harley was unaware of. A fact she wondered at how she, herself, knew. Odd, unidentifiable emotions crowded her following the thoughts yet she kept her face carefully blank. "Did you and Helena ever..." She was surprised at her own reluctance to ask the obvious question.
"Sleep together?" And now Harley sneered. "Never. She was too infatuated with someone else. Someone who believed in supposed truth, justice and the hero way."
She fought it, but Ivy couldn't keep the frown out of her voice. "Who?"
The laugh mocked her and Ivy didn't like it. "Helena was in love with Batgirl of course."
"You told me you took care of Batgirl." The tension headache she had was beginning to grow exponentially.
Warm brown eyes skirted to the side, "That wasn't the whole story. He shot her."
Ivy didn't ask who 'he' was. Harley was always careful about mentioning the Joker around her. Ivy detested the man, vengefully so. "Go on Harley."
"He wounded her, but she escaped and he was caught. She recovered, but I eventually found her and I took care of what was left." Dark eyes burned suddenly into Ivy's, mad and joyful.
"And so Helena hates you."
"Yes." Harley answered, watching her as intently as Ivy was watching the blonde back.
"She wants you more than just arrested, she wants you dead." Back in the museum, rage had burned in Helena's eyes. The only thing that burned deeper in that gaze when she saw Harley had been hate, naked and raw. What, exactly, Ivy wondered, had Harley done to that woman to gain such immense enmity?
"Yes." Harley's expression gloated. It pleased her that Helena wanted her dead. It seemed to please her that she had pushed the dark woman that far.
"And you say it's because she was in love with this Batgirl?" That fact nagged at Ivy. Memories eluded her but facts flooded her mind and filled her chest with a strange, all encompassing ache. Facts like Helena loved poptarts, was a clothes horse, hated lending anything, was vain and reckless but fierce and loyal. Slow to trust others but unswerving once you won it. And one final thing, the one that for some reason caused Ivy pain. Helena Kyle was straight. There was no way she was in love with any woman let alone Batgirl.
Harley merely nodded, angry. A long time to be angry about what you never had.
She stared at Harley, trying to pierce those dark eyes and see into that highly intelligent, Machiavellian labyrinth. "What makes you so sure she was in love with anyone? That she's even gay?"
Now Harley stepped closer, something the woman had avoided doing in all her pacing and posturing before.
"She kissed me."
"Liar!" Before Ivy knew what she was doing the word exploded from her mouth just as her hand shot out and slapped the other woman full across the face. Ivy knew how to hit, even as a gut reaction. Harley spun back from the force of the blow.
Breathing heavily, Ivy struggled to regain control over herself, confused by her sudden and violent reaction. Yet even as breath left her clenched teeth, she couldn't calm down. She kept seeing that smug look on Harley's face, the pain in Helena's eyes staring at Ivy, and the way Quinn had said our Helena. And how Harley's face had twisted when she said it.
Quinn stood there, a hand to her cheek. Blood spilled over her lip. Her eyes stayed on Ivy, but they weren't afraid. Quinn wasn't afraid at all. For some reason, it only infuriated Ivy more.
"What's the matter lover?" Quinn purred as Ivy advanced upon her. "Did I touch a nerve?"
Ivy grabbed Quinn and shook her, shook her hard. "What do you mean by that Quinn?"
A flash in brown eyes, a warning of some sort. Ivy wished she knew, wished she could remember. But she was too angry to think. And her memories, no matter how she longed for them, always refused to come.
"You're hurting me." Quinn said in a very different voice, frail, gasping. Suddenly the horror of what she was doing hit Ivy hard. This was the one woman she could count on, the one who had rescued her. The one who helped her get better again and saw to her every whim. It was no way to treat anyone, let alone the only friend Ivy had in this world. Even if she was secretive.
She let go of the blonde, horrified and ashamed. "I'm so sorry Harley. I don't know what came over me. I just, these games we play with each other. Sometimes I get sick of them." Weak excuses all of them, but it was all Ivy had to offer.
The entire demeanor of Harley softened. She went over to the table and took a napkin from there to dab at her lip. She sighed softly. "It's okay Ivy, really. Losing your memory is a terrible trauma and I should know better than to taunt you. It's just, Helena is a sore spot with me. A project gone wrong. A disappointment I take too personally. Please don't think it changes how I feel about you."
Now her guilt cemented itself in her heart. Ivy closed to small distance between them. "Here, let me." She took the napkin and gingerly swabbed the split lip she had caused. That she could ever have done any violence to someone she cared for left Ivy stricken to her core. "I am truly, deeply sorry."
Harley tried to smile, though it was more of a wince with her hurt lip, her gaze hopeful. "Can we kiss and make up now?"
The other woman was being so forgiving after what Ivy had done. Ivy smiled shakily at her, still upset by her own rage, now completely depleted by her shame. "Sure Harl, I'll be careful."
She pressed her lips to Harley's as softly as she promised. A sigh escaped Harley again but this one was lighter. Ivy tasted the blood she spilled. Tasted the warmth there. Then suddenly, Harley was gasping, and it wasn't from pleasure.
Startled by Harley trying to suddenly push her away, Ivy was shocked to see the woman pale before her, the lips she just kissed turning a terrible blue-purple color where they weren't splashed by blood. She barely reacted in time as the blonde woman fell, spasms twitching throughout the petite body.
Quickly, Ivy checked her vitals. Harley was breathing too fast and shallow, and her heart was a frail hummingbird in her heaving chest. "Harley. Harley! What's wrong?" Fear speared Ivy. She did not know what she would do alone, utterly alone if something were to happen to the only person she could turn to.
Between gasps she was able to make out Harley's words. " ...kiss...poison, must have reasserted itself, help me, Ivy. Save me."
The words penetrated Ivy's understanding. The poison in her system had somehow become active again and now her only friend lay against her, collapsed, dying in her arms. Because of Ivy.
Dear God, Ivy thought, I've killed her.
A horrible fear bloomed within Ivy as she held Harley's dying body close to her. To be alone. She already had no past. She only had the present. And both the past and the present had Harley. The only thing Ivy had was Harley. The mysterious woman Helena was no sure thing. A nimbus. Uncertain. Harley no matter what had always been there for Ivy. Even with the subterfuge and the mind games. And Ivy was about to lose her. All the weeks of growing anger and hostility were ash in her mouth, so dry with fear.
"Harl. Harley please! You have to tell me what to do!" She lay the woman down gently, staring at bloodshot eyes and shrunken pupils.
Heavy lidded, Harley's eyes tried to focus on her. "Beautiful." Harley breathed.
Fear turned to desperation. A need to regain control. To save where she had hurt. To fix this. To fix it all. "Harley!" Ivy shouted at the top of her lungs, her voice sharp and commanding. She slapped Harley's face. Once. Twice. The second gained Ivy a response. "You have to tell me what to do. I can't remember! Now if you want to save yourself tell me now !"
Hands tried to grasp at Ivy's arms, frail butterfly touches that dropped away. "My room...hidden compart...in desk..."
Ivy raced to Harley's room. They had each had their own rooms despite usually sleeping in the main bedroom designated for both of them. She ignored the pain lancing through her back down her legs and skidded to a stop at Harley's door. As soon as she reached the desk she knocked it over and rummaged through it, scattering objects everywhere. Her hand hit it, a hidden compartment in the back of the second drawer. Feeling around she opened it and took out the contents. A black case the length of her palm and about as wide, though three times as thick. Ivy didn't waste time examining it. She ran back to fall painfully on her knees beside her friend's still form. The poison was setting in.
"I have it. Now what?" She opened up the pouch. Inside lay two syringes filled with a clear fluid. One was marked with a red marker, the other with green.
"...the red...for me..." Harley sounded so very far away. "In my arm. IV injection."
"On it." Ivy muttered as she pulled it out and squeezed out any excess air. She stripped off her belt and tied it sharply around Harley's bicep. Quickly a vein popped up and Ivy plunged it in. And waited.
The reaction was miraculous to watch. Color spilled along Harley's skin as if an invisible brush painted over the pallor. Blue lips bloomed into full rose red. Ivy watched transfixed as Harley's breathing evened out. And she listened very carefully, laying her head on Harley's chest to hear that heartbeat steady and strengthen. She closed her eyes in relief and sagged briefly upon that heart.
It was Harley's voice, still weak but clearer, that caused Ivy to straighten up. "Ivy, you need to take the green one. IV serum for the poison reasserting itself in your system. Otherwise you'll get worse. You can't touch my skin again until you do."
She'd get worse. Ivy could recall how a mere touch of her skin was lethal, at least she could recall it factually. She followed the same procedure she had with Harley on herself and readied the injection.
Ivy looked down into pain filled eyes and a face etched with exhaustion. "The whole thing Harl?"
"I"m afraid so."
She took a deep breath and did it. There was the cold wash under her skin, in her veins, then the cold began to burn. It felt like her arteries were filled with acid and that the veins along her flesh would catch fire burning her from the inside out. She screamed. Ivy screamed as if she could loose the pain and inferno within her with that unrestrained sound. But as soon as it began and was about to completely overwhelm her, it receded. In only moments she was in her own skin, feeling normal again, the pain already becoming a memory.
Breathing heavily, she realized in the sudden cool air that she had broken out in a sweat. Brown eyes watched her sadly. "I'm sorry." Harley said.
"For what?" Ivy panted.
"You had to take it. I didn't want to warn you about the effects. I thought it would make it worse."
Ivy shook her head. "Don't be. You did what needed to be done." She looked at them both. "I have to get you into bed. You need rest. Hell, so do I. Is it okay for me to touch you again?"
"Yes." The word dragged out, Harley's exhaustion was so heavy. "The effects are near instantaneous."
She thought about lifting the older woman but discarded the idea quickly. "I can't carry you. Do you think you can help me get you into bed?"
Harley tried to smile lasciviously but she was too tired and in too much pain to pull off her usual seductive expression. "I would help you get me into bed even if I was shot in the back."
"You have the worst sense of humor sometimes." They struggled, arms around each other to stand. There were a couple of precarious moments where Ivy thought they would fall. They managed to stand. And Ivy was glad her legs only shook a little from the strain of the neural coupler, the night, and the poison.
She was grateful it was such a short distance to Harley's room. Ivy laid the woman down, undressed her and even tucked the blankets around her gently.
A hand on Ivy's over the blanket's edge stopped her. "Ivy...Pamela." There were so many things in Harley's expression, so many layers in those eyes that Ivy couldn't read the other woman. "What I said earlier, the way I acted, I was angry, and hurt. I didn't mean it, not the way it sounded. You know me, I can't help but want to push peoples' buttons. I keep trying to find peoples' sore spots. And I shouldn't with you. You were right before, about being sick of the head games. We're no longer the people we were. It's time we start over, start new. After all, you don't even remember the way we were. Not really. You recall facts and equations and statistics, but you don't remember how we first met, the first time we made love...it's all gone. So I want you to take all the time you need to get your bearings. The trauma of losing all the memories of your life stolen from you ...I can only imagine how you must feel. I had no right to take my frustration at my own helplessness out on the one person I want so much to help."
"What helplessness?" Ivy asked softly, in a voice she never heard herself use before. No angle or edges to it.
"Being like this." Harley confessed, tears threatened to spill over her eyes. "Not being able to help you. No longer being on top of the crime world because of Helena and her friends. I'm better than when you first knew me, Pamela. I'm no one's flunkey now. But I failed. And because of that I don't know how well I can help you now, when you need me the most."
"Hush." Ivy soothed, tenderly tucking the covers under Harley's chin. "You've done everything for me. And as for the head games, we're both two criminal masterminds. The odds of us having a few showdowns were pretty high. Testing the boundaries. Each other. We like challenges, Harl. It's probably one of the reasons why we make such a good match."
Harley smiled. One where you could see the woman she might have been if she hadn't met the Joker. It made Ivy happy to see it. "We are an amazing match aren't we Ivy? Better than ever, even better than before."
It struck Ivy suddenly, how lonely Harley must have been in New Gotham. No Joker, no Ivy, no one to trust or turn to or even simply talk with, not really. Not the way you could when you had an equal. No one you could reveal yourself to. At least no one who could appreciate it. They had both been very alone it seemed. All this time, and Ivy had only thought about herself.
"I guess we're both lucky." She smiled down at the blonde woman. "Now rest. We both need it."
"Wait." And where her last words held her smile, the next only held Harley's sorrow. "There's something you need to know. That serum you took. It was the last batch I had. Ones I had left from before we last parted ways when you had first cured yourself. There's no more. And I don't know how to make them. The serum for you, or the cure for anyone infected."
Ivy took a quick breath. "How long will the serum last?"
"I have no idea." Grief lay there, helpless sorrow all for Ivy. Of course, only Ivy's lover could possibly understand what this would mean to her.
Fear warred but Ivy's control won as her mind began to work. She refocused on Harley, "Don't worry about it now. You just get your rest. It wasn't your fault. We'll figure something out. We always do, don't we?"
"You'll stay?" The plea struck Ivy. Alone. They had both been so alone. Feared it.
"Of course." Ivy promised. Her own relief at not losing the one person in her life a heavy toll off her shoulders.
Reassured, and with Ivy's urging, Harley closed her eyes. She was asleep in seconds with Ivy watching over her.
As soon as she felt safe that Harley wouldn't relapse, Ivy finally removed the painful device on her lower back and took a shower. It was with relief that she found herself back in her wheel chair again and the pain gone. Instead of wearing a bathrobe after the shower however, she had changed to a simple white shirt and jeans. As if her body knew before she did that she would not be returning to the lay down in that bed. A couple of long hours passed with Ivy sitting in the bedroom, no light on, watching Harley sleep. All the while Ivy's mind turned things over, every facet, every detail. The empty syringe she had injected herself with, lay loose in one of her hands as she thought and thought some more. Harley had implied that Ivy was jealous over the blonde's dubious relationship with this Helena person. And Ivy couldn't deny it. Every time she thought of Harley kissing the dark woman it killed a part of Ivy. And it wasn't on her partner's behalf. It was that Ivy, for whatever reasons unknown to herself, longed for that mysterious woman. But she didn't know why. Just like she didn't know why the thought of Helena in pain caused an ache within Ivy's own chest. It hurt her to think of Helena kissing Harley and not her. It enraged Ivy to think of Harley with the other woman in any way. And always it came back to one question: why?
Ivy thought she had found answers tonight. Instead she had more questions. And now she was beginning to fear what she might find out. And what it would mean when and if she did. Had she been unfaithful to Harley with this other woman? Yet Ivy was certain Helena was straight. She simply couldn't remember why she knew it with such conviction. Each set of questions and answers kept leading her to dead ends. Nowhere to go.
And now this. Her poison reasserting itself and no more serum left. There was more to it than that though. Because in Ivy's mind she could recall all the chemical properties of her earlier poisons, she could remember remedies to her toxins if administered quickly enough. Amongst all those facts however, there were no details, none, about a solution to her toxic state for herself. Yet apparently she had found one. A solution that was now failing. One that she had no recollection of even though she could recall every chemical detail of every other equation without the slightest mental duress. Which could mean only two things as far as Ivy could tell.
One: it was lost during the onset of the amnesia.
Two: Harley was lying.
The terror Ivy felt at almost losing the other woman still caught her breath and tightened her throat. And Harley had said such pretty things. Even though Ivy wanted to believe the other woman, something wasn't right. But lies could be the prettiest words of them all. And so Ivy was left with more questions than she began with.
That, and an empty syringe.
Her mind grabbed onto what there was. The concrete. She had a syringe. Some of the chemicals would still be in there, surely. Ivy would need a chem lab. Nothing fancy, but she didn't have a set up for that here. She had only configured their place for her computers, not chemical analysis.
It was late and she didn't have time to hack into government or high profile corporate labs to circumvent their security. She would have to get down and dirty. Somewhere with basic but useful chemical analysis tools. Someplace with low to no security. Someplace deserted at this very, very early hour in the morning. Ivy's thoughts brought up a place, the perfect place for her needs. She immediately seized on the idea. The more she thought about the place, the more she liked it.
She checked her watch. Three hours until dawn. It would be enough time. She checked Harley. Her vitals were still strong and steady. Ivy went about the home, collecting her things. She quickly wrote a note for Harley just in case the woman woke up before she returned. Ivy put both syringes back in the case, grabbed the keys to her car and left, her destination clear.
She didn't like rash plans but this was sound. After all, her mind supplied, what better place for a deserted chem lab with low security than a high school?
Ivy locked the door behind her and set off to break into New Gotham High.
A couple of hours until dawn, and the night was hinting at it. Dark but with the sounds of crickets quieting, and bird song here and there throughout the trees scattered about the school grounds. The air held the heavy scent of rain, thick enough that Ivy could taste it on her tongue. She very much did not want to get stuck out in the rain in her chair. And a cold rain it would be at that. Glad that the high school had ramps, she quickly keyed in the lock codes to get in. In the time she had woken in a green room on verdant sheets with Harley by her side, Ivy's memory of her life gone, the red haired woman had stopped questioning why she knew all the trivial details of nearly everything to do with this city. Like why she knew this school had no guard at this time of night and that the janitor would be here a half hour past dawn to open the school and start his cleaning rounds. Ivy didn't even question how she knew the lock codes. It was information, and information on everything filled her mind past overflowing. Every detail except herself. It was as if the only thing she had forgotten, the only thing she had lost, was her soul. She would rather have lost everything else than her sense of who she was. And who other people were.
Ivy made her way down the hall, keeping the flashlight low. She wanted to believe in Harley, wanted to trust her girlfriend, and yet, always there was something holding her back. The same thing that kept her from giving in to Harley's advances completely. Since waking with her memory gone, she had not fully been intimate with Harley. And Harley had prodded, tried to seduce and connive her way into Ivy's bed and body. Every time though, there was a point where Ivy had stopped. Just stopped. She didn't know why. It was the same with their life together. Ivy could only commit so much, give in and open up only a little to the other woman. It didn't seem right to her that she should be so selfish, so angry all the time but the nagging suspicion persisted. Perhaps Ivy simply wasn't the type of person to give herself over completely to anyone. Ivy wished that she knew what type of person she truly was.
The way she and Quinn were together, they were both lonely. At least, Ivy still felt empty and drifting.
If only she had time to go to a real lab. One with a refractometer, a Fourier Transfer Infrared, and she longed for access to a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine. But any of those places, whether the University or one of the industry labs, were all too heavily guarded. Security was too tight and she would need time to plan her excursion to be able to use their equipment. For now, she would have to see if there was anything she could find out with a simple microscope, testing what remains of the solution, its solubility. And have access to the school's CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Maybe even steal it and hide it so that Harley wouldn't find it.
She slowed her progress. Odd, she had been moving towards the chemical lab room, but for some reason while she was lost in thought she found herself heading towards a different room, one with the door slightly ajar when all the doors should be closed and locked at this hour. Ivy felt compelled to go closer and, as she did, she heard a young woman's voice.
"You can't be so hard on yourself. You were in shock when you saw her like that. We've been looking for her all these weeks, not knowing whether she was alive or de-. Sorry. I know, we can't use the 'd' word. But you know what I mean. You love her. I would have frozen completely. At least you tried to talk to her, get her." The voice was light sounding except the underlying tone threaded heavily with concern and exhaustion. Despite the worry, it was a warm voice.
Ivy turned off her flashlight and moved quietly to peer through the slightly open door. Street lights illuminated the room well enough for her to make out the young woman leaning against the teacher's desk. Young- late teens- tall, long blond hair, brown hip hugging cords, belt, red shirt, a darker brown jacket that was either suede or a fake version of it, a cell phone to her ear, and a face that looked younger than her years, years that lay in the young woman's stance. She had more confidence and grace in her body language than people a decade older than her. And also her eyes. Ivy could tell in the light that they were a pale blue. It was the weight behind those eyes. Even seeing the young woman's gaze directed inward, there lay a force of personality there that didn't sit with the sunshine hair and innocent face. She intrigued Ivy. And for some reason, Ivy wanted to hear the conversation the blonde was having.
"You're not still out trying to find her are you?" A heavy sigh. "You have to wait by the system Alfred managed to set up back at the clock tower. Otherwise it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. One of us has to be there." Another sigh. "Yeah, I know, I'm not much better." A brief pause. "Okay, I confess I was out looking for her too. I, at least realized I was spinning my wheels....No, I'm not back there yet......I'm ...I'm in her class room." Then the words came out rushed and defensive. "It just makes me feel closer to her to come here after sweeps looking for her." Embarrassed.
"You knew that I've been coming here all this time? Why didn't you say? Oh." The last was very soft. The light shimmered in the young woman's eyes. Tears. Ivy pressed closer to the door. It moved her. "Please, don't cry. We'll find her." The woman spoke so gently. Ivy was startled to find her own hand on the door, as if she were about to go in. She listened attentively to the next words. "The bitch lied. She wouldn't really be with that psycho. Not like that. Even hypnotized or drugged or whatever. There's no way. We will get her back. But you won't be any good to her if you don't sleep and eat something. You've barely done either since she was taken. We will find her. You found her once. We will again....yeah. Love you too. Bye."
The phone and the hand holding it fell to rest on the woman's leg. The blonde wasn't seeing anything in the room. Her eyes were lost, and in the next breath tears rolled down pale cheeks unheeded. Ivy's breath caught at the sight. Without thinking, she came into the room and fished out a kleenex from the inside of her leather motorcycle jacket.
"Here," she said as softly as she could to not startle the young woman too much. "Take this."
Whatever reaction she had expected, the one she got wasn't it. The blonde startled and immediately took up a fighting stance, Kenpo with a bit of improvising, Ivy's mind supplied. Then that pale blue gaze focused on her, and if anything, the young woman paled even more, the tears only increased and the phone clattered to the ground as if the weight of it was too much suddenly. In fact, Ivy wondered if the blonde wasn't about to faint, she seemed unsteady on her legs when just a second before she was strong and ready to fight.
"You." The blonde breathed.
Ivy didn't know what to do with this reaction. There wasn't a chance to really think about it though, as all the loose objects on top of the desks and the pictures against the walls began to tremble and shake, as if there was an earthquake. But there was no tremor going up Ivy's chair. She was at a loss as to what was going on. Maybe the woman recognized her. Damn, Ivy thought, of course, hadn't Pamela Isley's face been plastered across the front page of every newspaper in the past two weeks? Even masked, they had dragged out old fuzzy mug shots. The young woman was probably scared to death, thinking Poison Ivy was about to include murder to her new crime rampage.
Ivy tried to smile kindly. "Don't worry. I'm not here to hurt you."
The young woman shuddered and seemed to pull herself together. Whatever made the objects move stopped. Perhaps a large truck passing by that Ivy didn't hear. "Sorry," the blonde said," I kinda lose control when I'm under severe emotional stress."
"I meant it." Ivy motioned with her hand, still holding the kleenex to the other woman. "I won't hurt you."
A bright smile shone through the tears. "I know you'd never hurt me." The blonde took kleenex, her fingers gripping Ivy's before releasing her. Ivy quirked a crimson eye brow at the gesture.
Granted, Ivy honestly didn't want the younger woman afraid of her, but this sudden fearlessness made her reproach the blonde. "Don't you know better than to believe anything a master criminal tells you?"
"Yes." The young woman smiled, looking at Ivy, looking through her in an intense but kind way. As if Ivy was a long lost friend, a part of her soul.
Ivy shook her head. "You don't act like it."
"I've had a good teacher- the best- teach me how to handle myself." The woman hadn't wiped her eyes or moved away.
The way she stared at Ivy unnerved the older woman. Unless... Ivy smiled, playful. "Aren't you a little young and smart enough not to have a crush on a villain?"
Blue eyes widened, and the look took years of anxiety and worry from that face. Ivy valued the surprised burst of laughter that followed though she didn't understand it, or her own reactions to the other woman.
"She would so kick my ass if I did." Ivy assumed the teenager was talking about Harley. Who else?
The kleenex still lay there, unused, in the teen's hand. Ivy shook her head at the brave, though odd, young woman. Secretly though, she was relieved that the blonde didn't have a crush on her, part of Ivy felt oddly protective about the young woman, not at all seductive. Finally she said, "Sit." She pointed at one of the nearby student chairs.
The blonde complied immediately and, once sitting, looked at Ivy questioningly. Ivy took the tissue from the blonde's unresisting hand. "Since you're not going to do it, I might as well. And you can call me Pamela if you want, or Ivy. Either will do." She dabbed at the teen's face, wiping away the traces of tears. "And are you going to give me your name, or do I have to torture it out of you?" She drawled, amused at the entire situation. Her, Poison Ivy, wiping away a girl's tears as if she were her mother.
Perhaps it was a trick of the dim lights from outside, but she thought she saw a flash of hurt in those pale eyes. "My name's Dinah." The young woman supplied softly.
Ivy offered her half smirk to show she was entertained by the whole scene. "And you're not worried about giving your name to the most wanted criminal in New Gotham, Dinah?"
"I'm not worried about giving you my name."
"You must be a handful for your parents." Ivy wondered, "Do they know that you're out all night hooking up with dastardly characters?"
This time Ivy didn't have to ask if she imagined the pain, it was there in Dinah's face. It lay there dully, and old wound. One Ivy had thoughtlessly reopened. "I don't know about my dad, but my mother died half a year ago."
"I'm sorry." Ivy meant it. She really would have to work on her 'dastardly' part. Harley was far better at being nefarious.
"It's okay. There wasn't anything you or anyone could have done. I'm better now. And I'm not alone." The last was said with another intense look at, and into Ivy. A gaze that held joy and sorrow both. It was far too complicated a look to be in such a young person. Dinah must have survived far more than her short answers offered.
"So, Dinah," Ivy leaned back in her chair to better study the woman across from her. "What brings you to break into high schools in the dead of night?" Ivy had heard the answer given to the person on the phone. For Dinah to feel close to someone she missed. "Is it a teacher you have a crush on?"
Dinah blushed and waved her hands in front of her frantically. "No, oh, so no. Don't go there." She was every bit the youth she should be in that moment, Ivy thought. And it made her smile, Ivy's really open smile.
"Are you going to tell me what it is? After all, I do have ways of making you talk." This time she put a bit of the force of her personality to bear, making her words sound threatening and seductive all at once. She needed to let the teenager know that she should be more careful, despite how things seemed. Otherwise, who knows who might get inside the girl's defences and hurt her?
"It's okay...Pamela. Really, I know how to take care of myself. Look." The book on a nearby desk floated into the air and came to dangle in front of the older woman.
"I have my own set of mad skillz." Dinah grinned, pleased at Ivy's surprised reaction it seemed.
Dinah was meta. Ivy plucked the book from the air and set it to rest on the desk. "My, my, the things one finds wandering the deserted halls of New Gotham High. What else can you do?"
"I can tell when someone's lying to me. I know who to be afraid of. I can always tell now." Dinah assured her, voice strong, the youthfulness of a moment ago gone.
She studied Dinah for a moment, then nodded once. "I'm sure you can Dinah. But be careful not to get overconfident. Always over assume your opponent's abilities, and under assume your own. Keeps a person from judging...badly."
"Have you?" Dinah asked earnestly. "Judged badly, I mean?"
She looked at the young woman sharply, wondering suddenly what those other abilities Dinah referred to were. "What do you mean?"
"Just," Dinah gestured around them vaguely, "you're here in a deserted high school. Why?"
"I need the chem lab equipment." Ivy surprised herself in answering truthfully. She felt completely comfortable with Dinah. It should have bothered her, but it didn't.
"You have something you need to analyze?"
Ivy nodded, "Some residue from a syringe. I need to know what was in it."
Eyes widened with alarm. "You were injected with something?"
"It's not what you think. Look, I appreciate how you're taking meeting me all in stride, but I really do need to get to work." She turned herself around to leave.
"Wait!" Ivy turned her head slightly to catch the woman who moved quickly to stand beside her, expression pleading. "Please, if you need to find out what that stuff is our- my place has some equipment that can give you every kind of analysis you could imagine. We have stuff that corporations would kill for."
"And you're offering me access to this equipment? To your home?" Ivy couldn't keep the disbelief out of her voice, or the scepticism.
"I'm not fooling you Ba- Pamela. I really do have that kind of stuff, computers and bio-chemical analyzing tools that not even NASA knows about. At home there's a Refractometer, an FTIR, an NMR, we even have a polarimeter if you can use it, and we have very wide, in depth computer files on chemicals and compounds that would make the CRC handbook look like a kindergarten coloring book It would help you. And I want to help you."
The woman vibrated sincerity. It was hard to argue with her, to doubt her. "Dinah," and Ivy tried to let her gratitude show, "I appreciate your offer, but considering who I am, I really shouldn't be taking advantage of a young earnest woman in any way." She wanted access to that equipment badly, but it was strange that this young woman would have them in her home. And odd too that she mentioned everything that Ivy wanted. All the items on Ivy's mind of what she needed. As if Dinah could read Ivy's mental checklist.
Dinah dared to reach out and take Ivy's hand. Ivy looked up at her. "You'd be able to find the answers to what you're looking for. You need theses answers. No one close to me would be upset with me for helping you. All I'm doing is giving you access to ou- my home. If we get caught, I can always say you broke in." The last was offered with a weak grin. The young woman meant it, and she very much wanted Ivy to go with her. Ivy just wished she understood why.
"What would the other person you were talking to on the phone say?" She asked instead.
"She'd understand, believe me." Dinah hesitated, then added. "She'd like to see you too."
"I don't do autographs." Ivy told her dryly.
Dinah winced. "I didn't mean it like that. Please, I don't live far. And I'd like to help you."
"I'm a criminal. Why do you want to help me?" Ivy stared at her hard this time.
Dinah didn't flinch from the speculation. "Because," and the young blonde hesitated as if measuring her words, choosing them carefully, "I think... I know... you would do the same for me if our positions were reversed."
Ivy scowled. "I am not one of the good guys Dinah. You need to remember that."
Again, Ivy was faced with that complicated regard. "Maybe. But you're not the bad guy you think you are." A small smile then that softened Dinah's face more. "You did wipe away my tears after all."
Ivy still scowled. "And no one hears about that. Ever."
"Of course not." Dinah said suddenly, but her smile widened and brightened like a sun breaking free from the clouds.
"I didn't say yes." Ivy told her.
"You want to, so why not?" Dinah grinned.
Ivy sighed, exasperated, but she couldn't help but smile back into that face that held so much hope. "All right, lead on MacDuff."
Dinah led and Ivy, though unaccustomed to the role, followed.
"So where do you live?" Ivy asked, wondering at her sense of trust in the young woman. She felt comfortable with Dinah, at ease, in a way she never did with Harley. Strange.
"Don't you remember your own home?" A voice down at the end of the hallway. Not Dinah's. A voice Ivy was becoming quickly familiar with.
Ivy yanked Dinah behind her and flicked out the collapsible fighting sticks she had hidden under the arm rests of her wheelchair. The black metal batons immediately extended their full length as she faced the figure standing in front of the school entrance, lit behind by the street lights.
"Stay behind me Dinah." Ivy told the blonde while never taking her eyes off of the form walking towards them. "Huntress, I didn't invite you this time."
Huntress moved towards them. Ivy readied herself to fight.
"I didn't invite you this time," Ivy said.
Huntress moved towards them, and Ivy readied herself to fight. "You try to hurt me and I'll make you pray you never met me."
Warm hands found Ivy's shoulders immediately. Dinah said, "Helena would never hurt you."
"Right." Ivy scoffed. "Why else would she be here." It wasn't a question.
Violet-blue eyes blazed into Ivy's, set in a face so raw with emotion it was almost too painful to look at. "Do you really think I could hear the sound of your voice and stay away?" Helena's words came out as aching as her expression.
Ivy didn't understand the answer. Not until her eyes lit upon the necklace and earrings Helena wore. Ones that had the same symbol as Dinah's.
With a sharp wrench, Ivy pulled her shoulders out from under Dinah's hands and moved her chair so that she had them both one on either side of her. Ivy kept her batons extended. Dinah was so close that Ivy was able to hold her fighting stick point against the young woman's jugular but Dinah didn't move back.
"You have an open comm system. Clever."
"Don't give us the credit." Helena told her. "They were your idea."
"What the hell does that mean?" Ivy kept the woman in her peripheral vision while keeping her gaze on Dinah who was closest to her. "I thought I could trust you." She accused the younger woman.
"You can." Was Dinah's soft reply.
Ivy took in that look of sweet sincerity. "Damn, you lie even better than Harley and your friend."
"We haven't lied to you." The young blonde insisted. "I meant what I said. Come with me to the clock tower. We have things there for you to find out what you injected herself with."
Even in her periphery and the dim light, Ivy saw Helena blanch. "You injected yourself with something?"
A hard edge crept into Ivy's voice. "I never told you what I wanted to check or why." She recalled Dinah's comment about having other abilities. "You wouldn't happen to be a telepath as well as a telekinetic would you?"
"Only when I touch someone. I didn't mean to hurt you, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. And see if you really couldn't remember any of us." Dinah apologized, blue eyes full of sorrow and need.
It wasn't the telepathy that hurt. It was the manipulation by the woman Ivy had assumed was innocent. She had enough manipulative tactics from Harley.
"What did you see Dinah? Can she remember us?" Helena asked, voice filled with the pain of hope.
Ivy saw Dinah's face tighten in reflex. It wasn't good news she had to give Helena. "She can't remember us at all. Nothing. Like there's a wall to anything that has to do with her and her life. Details about everything are there except there's nothing about Barbara, Batgirl, Oracle, you, me, Alfred, or the clock tower. I don't know how Quinn did it. Although...there seems to be slivers of you, just brief images, nothing more. But we can't worry about all that right now Helena. Quinn tricked her into injecting herself with something and she doesn't know what it is. It could be poison. We have to get her back to the clock tower and find out what it is!"
Ivy gave them both a look and it wasn't friendly. "I'm not going anywhere with either of you."
She motioned Dinah with the baton. "Go over there by your friend. I don't want you at my back."
Dinah hesitated. Helena gave her a nod, "Go out and keep watch D, while Barbara and I sort out this little misunderstanding."
The young woman did as she was told, though the hunch of her shoulders said clearly she didn't like it.
Ivy shook her head at the dark woman she was alone with now. "You don't take a hint very well do you? I don't let anyone put me into a corner. I don't like it when people try to force me into things. You see the fact that there are no handle bars on my chair? It's because-"
"You don't like to be pushed." Helena said, cutting her off and finishing for her. "I know. Just like I know you. Everything about you. All those things Quinn stole from you just like she stole you from me. But what you don't realize is that I'm here to save you Barbara. And I'll do it even if I have to fight you for it."
"I'm not your Barbara." Ivy stated clearly. Her anger rose but she kept her mind calm, calculating. She wouldn't get more than one shot, maybe two, at beating the other woman. Helena was too fast and too strong. It meant Ivy would have to disable her rather than merely avoid, though she'd prefer the latter. Disabling the other woman would mean having to go for a hard target, the knee or ankle. Maybe an elbow if Ivy got a clear shot. And even threatened and angry, Ivy didn't want to hurt the woman, especially not as badly as that. She wouldn't be pushed by anyone though, not in any way. No matter what.
Helena blew out a vexed breath, making her bangs briefly raise away from over her eyes. "You are Barbara."
"My name is Pamela Isley. I don't even know who this Barbara is."
A booted step forward. Ivy readied herself. "You are Barbara Gordon. Formerly Batgirl. Now you fight crime as Oracle. You trained both me and the kid out there. You live in the penthouse above the clock tower. There was a fight. It was...it was all my fault. Quinn used to me to break into our place. She broke into the clock tower, our base of operations. We fought her but then you two went one on one and your neural coupler failed. You fell. I could only watch, the cops she had under her control were jumping on my from everywhere. You fell and Quinn was all too eager to catch you." That part was chocked out with such venom it nearly frightened Ivy, all that hate. "She pulled a gun on you." And now those eyes caught and held Ivy's, filled with such horror. "I thought she'd kill you. She had killed Wade already. Wades's your...he was your boyfriend. Instead of killing you, she used you as a hostage to get out of there and next thing we knew, you were gone. I tried to follow but she had a few men still, and a grenade. I got out of the stairway just in time before it went off. She killed her own men to stop me from getting to you."
"Stop. Not one step closer," Ivy warned the woman, not having missed how Helen had inched closer with every sentence.
Helena stopped but wasn't still. Her whole body trembled standing there, as if it was taking all of her self-control not to close the distance between them.
They were close enough that Ivy could see the dark circles under Helena's eyes, the lines of exhaustion etched across that pained face. "Every night since," Helena continued, "we've been out looking for you. I finally had to break down and start searching the hospitals...the morgues wondering if this time my nightmare would come true and I'd find you on one of those metal slabs. Quinn's revenge on me would be complete."
It was too much. Too incredulous. Ivy was actually Batgirl? Batgirl who was now some Oracle persona who trained heroes. No, it couldn't be. And yet Helena's anguish was all too real.
"Were you two lovers?" Ivy asked, the words hoarse, her throat for some reason tight.
She watched Helena's face twist with disgust. "Never! I would sooner lie with a crocodile. Or god, that jerk from the Dark Horse who drools openly at all the girls and needs a bib. I would let him touch me before I'd ever let her near me again!"
"Did she kiss you?" Ivy persisted, needing to know and not understanding her need.
A very different look passed over Helena's face, realization and then, anger and resignation. "When she had me held and was beating on me in the clock tower she kissed me once." A particularly nasty grin curled Helena's lips at the memory. "I bit her, and not in that nice way. Bitch hit me hard after that and gave me a round house kick to the solar plexus. Guess she didn't like my more personalized version of 'no means no'. "
A tightness that Ivy didn't even realize lay in her chest had loosened at the words. "She made it sound like you two were maybe an item at one time." She confessed, feeling oddly apologetic.
"Are you and her lovers?" The words came out twisted, as they had to squeeze past a tight throat. It hurt Helena to ask it. And she said the word 'lovers' like it was a repugnant thing.
"NO!" One moment Helena was a good number of feet away from Ivy, the next, she was just suddenly there, directly in front of Ivy. Ivy never had a chance to react, had never even seen Helena move. The woman leaned towards her, face so close to Ivy's, her hands on Ivy's armrests. The sound of metal twisting under her grip grated along their ears. Ivy watched as violet -blue eyes flashed gold and then a deeper violet, the pupils changing to feline vertical slits.
"You're not her lover. You didn't make love to her. Tell me you didn't!" The woman growled, all fury and pain.
Such a violent reaction at the mere thought of who Ivy slept with. It bothered the older woman. "What do you care Helena? You're straight aren't you? Aren't you?" The last question she almost shouted, an irrational anger filling Ivy.
Stricken eyes didn't shy from Ivy's angry gaze. "Whatever gave you that idea? Because I flirted with Reese? I only did that to distract myself from you being happy with Wade. You're the straight one Barbara. Not me. How could you have sex with her? She murdered your boyfriend!"
Ivy searched that face that had haunted her dreams since waking up in a bedroom with Quinn right there, waiting, helping Ivy. "I never said I was in love with her, or that we had sex. We kissed, maybe a bit more. Nothing else." She watched Helena's reaction carefully. She didn't add that for the past while there had been next to no such contact at all, or that she had become unenamored with Quinn. Feelings of obligation, even guilt and shame were what tied her to Quinn, Ivy realized. "I don't love her." She breathed. As shocked as Helena seemed but for different reasons.
"Then why are you with her?" Helena asked just as quietly.
Anxiety bloomed within Ivy. "Without her I'd be alone."
"How can you be alone, Barbara, when you've always had me?" Helena raised a hand and cupped Ivy's face. And her hand was so warm, soft and strong at the same time.
Ivy had the briefest pull to give in to Helena, but that irrational anger rose again. She jerked her face away. "I'm quite sure, amnesia or not, that I've never had you."
Helena's face tightened. "Only because you never let yourself see what I wanted to give you. What was always there, yours for the taking."
"So what you're telling me is that I'm only some prize in your and Quinn's sick little competition?" Ivy sneered. She tired to pull back, wheel herself backwards but Helena's grip on her chair stayed firm.
"There is nothing between me and Quinn but payback for hurting you. I lost you once. I won't let it happen again." Only resolve stared back at Ivy.
So much was going on. Who was this Barbara person? Could Helena be telling the truth? But then why couldn't Ivy trust her? One thing Ivy did know, she didn't dare trust either Helena or Quinn with finding the answers. And she wouldn't let either of them cage her.
"I told you before," she held Helena's gaze with her own unrelenting one, "I don't like to be pushed." She rapped the batons across Helena's sides, making sure to hit the floating ribs. Helena fell to her knees, nearly, from the twin blows but she hadn't let go of Ivy's chair. Ivy quickly followed her hits with a sudden jab to Helena's trachea. Just hard enough to make the woman startle backwards and grab for her throat, choking.
Ivy quickly wheeled back, getting as much space between them as possible. As she predicted, Helena recovered quickly. "I'm sorry I had to do that but you gave me no choice."
The feral woman coughed as she stood. She cleared her throat. "Then you give me no choice."
Helena charged Ivy.
Ivy expected Helena's move. As soon as Helena rushed her, she reversed her grip on her right baton and threw it like a spear. The dark woman tried to dodge but Ivy anticipated that, instinctively knowing Helena would lean to the right, Ivy's left. And so she hit her in the left shoulder, causing Helena to lean even more that way as she ran, now almost within reach of Ivy.
The weapon went flying unexpectedly upwards after the impact and hit against the metal frame of the turned off ceiling lights, striking sparks. Sparks which turned on the nearby sprinkler system. Water suddenly rained down upon both women. Quickly, the red head held her right wheel fast while spinning her left hard and leaning the opposite way causing the chair to tilt on the right wheel just enough for Ivy to evade Helena's grasping hand as the woman lunged for her. Helena's velocity was too fast, too hard to stop but had to keep going with the motion and ran several feet past her target, Ivy.
She spun herself around to face Helena's next attack. The woman stumbled to a halt, her boots squeaking loudly on the linoleum floor. A new onslaught, and Ivy surprised herself by blocking the flurry of blows coming at her with only her two arms and one baton. There would come a point when Helena would leave her guard down low on her right side, Ivy instinctively knew it, and the woman did. Ivy took advantage of it and hit Helena on the radial nerve of the woman's right thigh. Immediately Helena fell to her knees, the nerve strike leaving her leg useless. However, the grunt of pain from the other woman caused Ivy to hesitate. She immediately felt ashamed, even horrified that she had hurt Helena. She had to fight off her urge to drop her last baton and reach out to the woman and ask if she was okay. That second's pause was all the opening Helena needed.
The dark woman grabbed onto Ivy's chair, bringing her body in contact with as much of Ivy's as was possible with one sitting and the other kneeling. There was no room for Ivy to manoeuvre, her arms were pinned between Helena's, held to the other woman's body by sheer strength. They stared at each other, both breathing raggedly from their efforts.
"Don't you see?" Helena panted, her gaze a blaze of violet. "You couldn't know my weaknesses like you do unless you were Barbara, my friend, the woman who trained me. If you really believed I was the bad guy, deep down, then you would have taken out my knee with your stick instead of a nerve strike. You wouldn't have hesitated when I fell, but finished the job if you were really Ivy, the woman you claim to be, the villain Quinn tried to turn you into."
Adrenalin mixed with Ivy's confusion. She couldn't think clearly with Helena so close, it made her want to...an incredulous thought under the circumstances. "Get away from me. I need space." she said instead.
Eyes red with exhaustion and unshed tears stared back at her. "How can you say that? Space? You were gone Barbara. All this time I had no idea if you were alive or..." Helena looked away then, turned her face downward to the side, but her grip on the chair only tightened.
Ivy's chest ached, as if Helena turning away from her was a blow. That the woman would suddenly hide her face from Ivy... hurt her. The baton dropped from Ivy's hand and she took Helena's face in her hands, turning it back towards her. She gazed at Helena a long time, noting the dark wet hair plastered to Helena's head, and streaks of wetness flowing down the dark woman's face that weren't from the sprinklers. Quietly, without a sound, Helena wept before her.
Helena laughed brokenly. It was the saddest sound Ivy thought she'd ever heard. "Isn't it ironic?" The dark woman told her. "I've been having nightmares of you dead. That Quinn murdered you. And when I do finally find you and you're alive, all you want to do is get away from me."
If she were lying, it was the most convincing display Ivy could imagine.
"I'm so stupid," the weeping woman continued. "I heard the news, read the reports about Harley and Ivy and their crime spree. A crime spree without Quinn's usual death count, without guns, without anyone getting hurt. That was all your doing wasn't it? Quinn wants death too much, she's a violence junkie. I was an idiot. How can you ever forgive me for not seeing it sooner? There you were, all the while, right under my nose, a woman with red hair, strong, brilliant, and unlike the real Ivy your skin is normal, no tinge of green to it at all. And not a murderer."
"I assumed it was from the cure I administered to myself however long ago, the one -"
"The one Quinn told you about?" Helena didn't press but her words galvanized Ivy, galled her even as they felt like a pry bar in her chest, cracking parts of herself open that Ivy didn't even know existed before. Like this well of deep tenderness all pulling her towards the woman before her.
Harley would have lied to her if it was to the other woman's advantage, of that Ivy had not doubt, but to think she was not Ivy, not who she believed herself to be, it wrenched inside her mind to consider it all to be true, the depth of Quinn's betrayal. The true amount that Ivy may have lost.
She regarded the anguished woman, "Tell me about your Barbara."
A brief flare of hope shone in those entrancing colored eyes. "Barbara Gordon was raised by her uncle and adoptive father, the ex-commissioner Jim Gordon of the New Gotham Police. You love books-"
"Say 'Barbara', not me. Don't say 'you' " Ivy commanded her, as if it could make the dawning horror of the truth any less real.
"You," Helena persisted, her gaze staring a hole into Ivy, or maybe trying to fill one. "You are one of the bravest people I ever met. You fought alongside Batman and Robin as Batgirl. You rode a motorcycle, you loved running across rooftops, speed. You were a gymnast." Shadows haunted the young face before Ivy, a sinking feeling filled the older woman. "That night...the night my mother was murdered, you were shot by Joker." Ivy's eyes widened, Helena studied her carefully as she continued, "I almost lost you that night. I couldn't lose you and my mom both. You two were my whole world." Ivy watched as the woman licked her lips as if they were dry, dry underneath the continued onslaught of water from the sprinklers. "That first year was Hell for us both, but we got through it. You were partially paralyzed, permanently. But you adjusted. You never give up, ever. You became Oracle, controlling information and surveillance through the cyber world to continue your calling to fight crime. Keeping tabs on villains and suspicious activity. You're the nexus of information for heroes around the world. You've saved more lives than anyone could count. And more than when you were Batgirl. You took in Dinah last year when she was alone, and I was skeptical. You took her under your wing and trained her, mentored her. You're a hero Barbara. The real thing. I just save people because I like kicking ass and I know it's the right thing. But you always do the right thing because you have to. It's who you are, not just what you do. There are other things about you. A thousand things. Your favorite color is violet, your favorite flowers are snapdragons. You love the Fall and the changing color of the leaves. You're a flirt, and have the wickedest sense of humour of anyone I know. And you're loved Barbara," Helena's weeping slowed with the last words, as if the calm after a storm prevailed within her, "by so many people. But no one loves you more than me. I can't-" Words choked off and metal twisted under Helena's metahuman strength as she lost some of her hard won control. She looked at her hands on the wheel chair and back up at Barbara, surprise and grief carved harshly into that beautiful face. She opened her mouth to say more, closed it and moved in but stopped. With visible effort, Ivy watched the other woman force herself to sit back on her legs and wait, watching Ivy.
A thousand thoughts raced through Ivy's head. She only mentioned one. "The person you're talking about sounds too good to be true."
"You're very real." Helena said, her voice rough with what she held back.
To not be Ivy... it seemed too impossible to the red head because Ivy was all she knew of herself. She could grow plants, she knew all sorts of things a scientist and a criminal would know, like chemical compounds and how to hack into computers. She had Harley and only Harley. To think that she had family, friends, a life so full... That she was truly loved instead of all the mind games she and Harley shared, all the power plays. Those weren't Ivy. And she couldn't remember if they ever had been. But to be someone so different, to be the woman that shone in the love from Helena's eyes seemed too incredible. And there were other things that disturbed Ivy.
"This Barbara, she gave up everything except her life for the hero deal. Losing her ability to walk. And even if she had you in her life, you weren't lovers." She was certain of that, though she couldn't say where that certainty came from unless she was the woman Helena insisted she was.
"No," the words pierced a resounding ache into Ivy's heart, like a dagger slipped between her ribs. "We weren't lovers."
"I'm Ivy." Even to her own ears, Ivy's denial sounded weak.
"If you were, you wouldn't still be here listening to me."
It was like a slap. That this could be her life, being shot, always at risk... normal people don't go around dressed up as bats and what have you, risking their lives for a thankless job, losing the ability to use ones legs. But what was she now? Who was she now? A villain who didn't find that life challenging enough, fulfilling at all except for the occasional thrill. But... "Was Barbara happy?" Ivy immediately felt it was a ridiculous question however it was important for her to know.
"Many times you were," Helena's gaze was turned inward, a small smile curved full lips. A smile that was both sad and sentimental at the same time.
"Who was Wade that you said Quinn murdered?"
Helena flinched at the question. "Your boyfriend."
Ivy watched the emotions playing over Helena's face carefully, measuring. Both of them were soaked through now by the sprinklers. Helena's dark short hair was plastered wildly to her head, her features seemed paler in the first rays of dawn filtering through the window of the main doors to the school. Her black clothing hung from her slender frame as she kneeled there hurting, it seemed, for herself and the woman she loved. The woman she thought she lost. The woman she never truly had, not completely. The woman she believed Ivy to be.
But did Ivy want to be this person?
There was so much loss Helena had only touched upon in Barbara's life. Ivy could see it in the shadows of Helena's eyes, the restraint in her words. And yet what did Ivy have now? A lover, barely, that she couldn't trust. A woman she did not love. A way of life that, despite the thrill of racing rooftops and structuring challenging plans, left Ivy unsatisfied, restless, and ultimately empty. An emptiness that increased with every touch of Quinn's hands, every kiss of Quinn's mouth. Ivy didn't love the woman but the life she had was all she knew, all she had. The mere thought of losing what little she did remember, which was only the time with Quinn, overwhelmed Ivy with panic. Panic that speared her.
"I can't be who you want me to be." She muttered, pushing away from Helena and all her temptations. Temptations that could be empty promises of a person Ivy might not be. The horror of the reality should Helena be right was more than Ivy wanted to face. Because if it was true, she would kill Quinn. Kill her for violating her. Kill her for putting that pain in Helena's beautiful eyes.
Emotions, too many and too strong, pushed at Ivy. And Ivy didn't like to be pushed.
"I'm going." She said, tearing her eyes from the other woman's and attempting to move away. But Helena fought her, not releasing the chair and in the struggle the chair tilted and skidded on the wet linoleum floor.
A split second before Ivy hit the ground, slender arms wrapped around her and twisted them both so that instead of landing on hard flooring, she landed on the surprisingly pliant body of Helena. Helena who held her still, arms wrapped around her. Ivy pushed herself up, her hands on either side of Helena's shoulders, to look at that face, Helena's lips parted slightly, the water held away from her by Ivy's body covering the length of hers. The awareness of every inch of sodden clothing and the skin underneath that stretched beneath Ivy's form burned through the red head. Ivy's hair, almost a black red from the water, fell like a curtain around them. And everywhere their bodies touched where Ivy could feel, lay hot beneath her. A heat that sharply contrasted the cold damp air around them. She shivered.
Ivy tried to speak and found herself breathless. She inhaled and tried again. "If I am Barbara," she whispered to Helena, "and I remember the person I was, I might also remember why we never lay like this, why we never kissed. I would remember what kept you from my bed all this time."
The woman who cushioned her fall gazed up at her, eyes nearly burning with an internal light that had nothing to do with meta powers. "You deserve your life back Barbara, no matter what it would cost me."
Ivy or Barbara. The only life she knew or a life she may never remember. She wondered, feeling Helena's heart beating fiercely against Ivy's own chest, if she really had any choice at all as she leaned down and claimed the lips she'd wanted to taste for what seemed like forever. There, under the cold drops of water falling like rain upon them, Ivy took Helena's lips and gave up her heart. Slowly, she felt the lips under hers. And shyly at first, Helena tentatively returned every languid caress of Ivy's mouth. The heart under Ivy's breast beat much harder now. Like her own. And it was so much more than any night escapade, or anything else in Ivy's short remembrance of life, had ever given her. Helena kissed her back, hands moved along Ivy's wet shirt, under it, to explore chilled skin quickly warming with every shiver of sensation. And it filled Ivy, where everything else in her life emptied her. And she wanted that, ached to be filled. She deepened the kiss, caressing the inside of Helena's mouth, and discovering that the woman had a tongue piercing. And Helena showed Ivy that she knew just how to kiss with it, stroking Ivy's tongue with it just so, taking more initiative and using teeth and those lips to full effect on Ivy's reeling senses. She felt things below her stomach tighten in response. And more, she began to see slices of memory, hear voices that she now knew.
Helena kneeling in front of her in a large room surrounded by computers. A hand lay on Barbara's own as Helena pleaded with her. "Didn't you say it hurts you when you use the neural coupler? Didn't you say it could damage your spine more?"
"Hey, you try fighting crime on an empty stomach."
"I resent that. I am just as brooding and romantically destructive as the next person."
"We don't kill."
"I'm sorry Dinah, I can't help you with that."
"Would it flip a switch somewhere deep inside you to know that my lips were the last Wade kissed before I slid a knife into his heart?" Quinn.
"The less we feel, the less we are."
"It's my turn to save you." Helena's voice, filling her.
She drew back from Helena, shocked, and stared at the woman, green into deep, dark blue.
Helena's hand raised up and cupped her face. "I love you." Helena told her, a statement that held no hope for reciprocation. Helena believed if Barbara retrieved her memory then she wouldn't be with Helena like this. And maybe she was right, but not in this moment.
Barbara didn't remember everything, but she remembered this much. "I love you too Hel."
Those dark violet-blue eyes widened in shock at the use of Barbara's shortened name for her. Helena saw the recognition in Barbara's eyes. Tears filled blue even as Barbara's own tears dropped upon Helena's face like warm rain.
Suddenly Helena laughed. A wonderful burst of sound that held no restraint or fear, only pure joy. It made Barbara smile widely at the mere sound of Helena's happiness.
"My, my, what has been going on while I was sleeping?"
Fear raced through Barbara's body at that voice. She looked up and saw Harley Quinn standing in the entrance to the building. She held Dinah tightly in front of her, an arm around Dinah's shoulders and chest while the other hand pressed a gun to Dinah's neck.
Harley Quinn smiled at them all and laughed. It had nothing to do with joy and everything to do with the promise of pain, pain for them all.
Helena's kiss still thundered in Ivy's- Barbara's- body. It thundered in her heart along with a shattering splash of memories of her life as Barbara Gordon. Yet even with that heat upon her mouth and memories running wild within her, even with Dinah there prone in Quinn's embrace, with Quinn's gun against Dinah's slender neck, all Barbara could see was Quinn. She was the only one Barbara had eyes for.
"My chair." She breathed her fury out in a long heated exhale that held far more fury than two innocuous words should be able hold.
Without a word, and but a whisper of sound, Helena up-righted the chair for Barbara. All Barbara could hear was that quiet movement, the smattering of rain from the sprinklers and the harshness of her own breathing. She raised herself up in her own chair, climbing up. She did not ask for help. Wisely, no one there offered.
Not taking her eyes from Quinn's dark watchful gaze, Barbara leaned forward and picked up one of her batons, cold and slick from the water. She gripped it as if it was the last solid thing in the world.
"What's the matter lover?" Quinn smiled, evil as a snake, all sinewy lines and cold eyes, coiled as if waiting to strike. "No words of endearment for me?"
"Words." Barbara uttered, colder than ice, colder than metal, colder than her heart in that moment. "I have much more than words for you."
"And I so enjoy your physical attentions. Why not come closer and share." The blonde suggested as she pressed the gun harder into Dinah's neck. It was only then that Barbara noticed the glazed, heavy lidded look to Dinah.
"What have you done to her?' She demanded more than asked, voice sharp, the grip on her baton would crush something other than metal if it could. It was as if she could feel Quinn's neck within her grasp. All Barbara wanted to do was squeeze, hurt, break.
Quinn's smile held so much venom it came out a twisted thing. "A drugged dart. I remember from the clock tower what your little telekinetic can do. Don't worry darling, it's not lethal. Just something to keep her dazed and...compliant. Isn't that right Dinah? I know you're a touch telepath so tell them if I'm telling the truth or not. Since I am very much touching you." The arm around Dinah's upper body squeezed the younger woman for emphasis.
Helena growled a fierce low sound to Barbara's right but fell silent at Dinah's slow words.
"Truth. Hit me with dart and can't...concentrate to use powers. But the alarms attached to sprinklers...I stopped them."
"You did. Why?" Barbara asked crisply wondering how Dinah could have if she was drugged so heavily.
"Didn't want to interrupt you guys with red trucks and stuff...seemed to be goin' good," came Dinah's weak reply.
So the blonde had disabled the alarms telekinetically to bide them time. And then Quinn had struck.
Barbara spoke as she measured angles in her head, distance, factored in the water, her speed, Helena's, the speed of a bullet and Quinn's likelihood of using it. Quinn would. They stayed a frozen tableau the four of them. Trapped by Quinn. "Drugged darts are new for you. Not your usual style Quinn."
"That was what first tipped me off, you know. You calling me Quinn when you were so unhappy with me the other night. And so taken with our lovely Helena. I wondered then if you might be getting some of your memories back."
"Don't." Barbara ground out. "Don't you ever call her yours."
A blonde brow arched provocatively and dark eyes gleamed. "No? Then maybe I should refer to you that way. After all, Helena now has had the pleasure of your mouth. Not as much pleasure as I've had but I'm the type to take opportunities given to me. Of course, I haven't had the pleasure of Helena kissing me back." The last she said with scalding hate.
"Don't worry," Barbara added cruelly, never knowing herself to be cruel before her time with Quinn, "I can tell her that she wasn't missing much. Not in regards to you."
Brown eyes nearly black with rage widened. Teeth bared, Quinn took the gun off of Dinah and pointed it at Barbara. "How dare you! After everything I've done for you!"
"What you've done for me?" Barbara snarled, enraged, disbelief in the face of the other woman's audacity.
"Yes," Quinn hissed. "You were invisible before. The all knowing Oracle who couldn't even see that the woman she loved was very much in love with her. You kept yourself caged with a man you thought you should be with. Dull, boring Wade. Kind hearted, handsome enough I suppose, but for you? You with all your abilities and intelligence and fire. Wasting yourself on that. On that life, too. You sacrificed who you truly are, what you really are, all for a city that didn't care when you were shot, didn't care when others died, doesn't care now what happens to any of us."
"I gave you all of that back, your life, your fire, when I took you. I was going to simply kill you. To hurt Helena who, I admit, I very much wanted to hurt, still want to. But as I watched you and thought about all you were and all you could be, I realized I was wrong to have targeted Helena when my efforts should all have been for you, my lovely crimson lover. With me you could race rooftops again and love a woman, not be trapped by conventions and false obligations. You can't deny we had fun Ivy. Yes," she persisted, her voice low and intense, "I can see that you don't have all your memories back do you? I can still see my Ivy lurking there, a part of you, inside of you. Because deep down you know she is you."
"You really are crazy." Helena breathed, body tensed to lunge at the older woman.
"Am I?" Quinn teased, gun steady on Barbara, whom her gaze stayed just as steady on. "Think about it lover, Helena is nothing like us. You and me we're truly made for each other. She doesn't have our focus, our will, our determination or our intellects. We've had to work hard to break free from the shadows of those who would control us. You and I always both needing to be on top, in control. We're more alike than you and Helena could ever be. We have more in common than she could ever understand. She doesn't hold herself back. We've had to. For survival. To win. To beat them all. Can you even count the times life has beaten you down? I know that feeling Ivy, how it doesn't matter how often you get pushed down, it's the getting up again that matters. It's being able to take it. And we've taken our fill haven't we? Helena will never be like us. She doesn't have a calling, only the present. Whatever impulse she desires to fill at the moment. You and I are women of goals, of ideals, of strength. Together we could shape this city into anything you wanted. It tempts you, doesn't it? Just the thought of all that power, of the rush of doing as you liked. Of finally being visible. No one would ever dismiss you again. I see it in your eyes Ivy-"
"Barbara." She stated flatly, wishing she had more than just a fighting stick to lash out at Quinn with.
"Are you?" Quinn smirked. "How much do you really remember? Not all of it."
Scenes played out in Barbara's mind's eye. She saw herself in the clock tower. Fighting Quinn. A blow she hadn't managed to dodge had hit her across the jaw and she had felt one of the treated contacts fall out. Then, the next series of blows and she had Quinn pinned to the railing, ready to choke the blonde, snap her neck for invading her sanctum, her life, for hurting innocents like Wade and Helena, but she hadn't been fast enough. Quinn's eyes had sparked and her voice, rich and sickening like too much honey filled Barbara, overtook her.
"I see you dropped something. Lovely device, those contacts, but without one, it leaves you vulnerable to me." And before Barbara could react, or even blink, Quinn's eyes had swirled and changed and she was lost in Quinn's meta-hypnotic power. The next memory after that was waking on cool sheets of dark green and Quinn's face tender, her hands gentle and warm. And a needle...
Barbara shook her head. "What did you give me then. What was in that first shot?" The woman had managed to steal, actually seal, Barbara's episodic memory. There were drugs that could do that, that could help any suggestion Quinn had made while having Barbara hypnotized.
"Just a little something to add to my hypnotic suggestion, as you've accurately guessed." Quinn laughed low and pleased. "And you wonder why I want you? Who else would be able to keep in step with me as you have? I lost the meta ability I stole shortly after I took you. I merely wanted a back up. I didn't want you to remember your life as Barbara, anything about that life. So no memories of Helena or Dinah or your butler or clock towers. Tabula Rasa, so to speak. My own little experiment. And it worked far better than I ever could have imagined. You surpassed my expectations in all areas my dear, lovely woman. You can deny it all you want, but Ivy is a part of you. That woman who laughed when we first broke into banks, who loved running with the night at her heels and the police always too many steps behind. Because you knew you were better than them, better than them all. You enjoyed being Ivy. You're more her than you know."
"..poison..." Dinah's weak voice could barely be heard under the sound of sprinklers.
"Yes, Poison," Quinn crowed, placing the gun back on Dinah. "Now shush dear, we don't want to spoil the surprise."
"It's not true." Memories collided, Ivy's and Barbara's. "You weren't able to satisfy me. That life wasn't enough to fulfill any part of me Quinn." However, even as she said it she recalled those first daring robberies, the thrill of it singing in her blood.
"Liar." Her opponent accused, pushing the gun harder to Dinah's temple, causing the girl to whimper. "With me you had a lover, you had the night again. If you remember your life before, all of it, you might just remember what kept you from Helena's waiting arms."
It was too much, too close to what she herself had said to Helena only moments ago. In a way, Quinn was right, she and Barbara were both more similar to each other than either were to Helena. Driven women, driven past the brink of anyone else's conceptions. Barbara half remembered her life as Barbara Gordon, as Batgirl and then Oracle. Yet her recollections as Ivy were newer, fresher, and lay her open like an raw wound. She was no one now. Barbara and Ivy, the recollection of both women and who they were meant to be fought against each other and the red haired woman was caught in the gap between the two. Caught between her past and her present, not allowed to breathe, not allowed to be.
Barbara recalled Harley Quinn's smile when Barbara had first showed her the plants she had grown with a serum she developed. A flush of achievement had spread over Barbara's skin then. And she recalled her delight when Quinn took the fresh grown herbs and proceeded to cook Barbara an amazing Italian meal. They had dined by candle light and Barbara, as Ivy, had promised to grow some roses the color of Quinn's lips just before she kissed her. The several weeks as Ivy were filled with such memories, along with ones of growing frustration and confusion and anger. Therein also lay laughter, warm touches, Barbara's honest affection. The Joker may have robbed Barbara of the use of her legs, but Harley Quinn was the only one who had ever stolen a piece of Barbara's soul.
Every violation, every deception tore at Barbara. Her memories of Ivy and her memories of Barbara rose to smash and fall against each other. And with every second, her fury grew.
In one of those seconds, she wanted the gun in Quinn's hand, wanted to shoot it, wanted to kill.
That second washed her cold with realization. She hated guns, but here she was wanting nothing more than to use one on Quinn. Perhaps Ivy was too much a part of her now, just as Quinn said.
A tug on her baton made her look down. Nothing was snagged on it. She felt the pull again. Realization dawned. She looked up at Dinah who struggled to not fall despite Quinn's tight grip on her. Dinah who struggled now to let Barbara know she would use her telekinesis to delay the gun from firing on her. It would give Helena and Barbara just enough time to overtake Quinn. Barbara knew this because even with holes in her memory, she knew Dinah, just as she knew Helena would understand by the tone of her voice, the way she said her name, what Barbara wanted the dark haired woman to do.
"Barbara." Helena's utterance of Barbara's name was a confirmation.
That understanding tilted the balance, steadied Barbara. These two woman were her family, knew her, had her back. Like she would guard theirs, with her very life.
The tug hadn't been enough to alert Quinn, who watched them smirking. Her mere presence taunted Barbara.
The red head didn't yell a battle cry. She merely whipped her baton out like a javelin, similar to what she had done against Helena earlier. As anticipated, Quinn tried to dodge the blow coming to her head while firing the gun. The gun stalled, likely Dinah holding the trigger mentally frozen. Before Quinn had time to recover, even as she let go of Dinah and the baton had yet to fall to the ground, Helena was on the older blonde, snarling. The gun fell to the ground, a smattering of metallic sound and slid on the slick linoleum floor. .
Dinah would have fallen to the hard floor except that Barbara had rolled in the fray right behind Helena and awkwardly caught the young woman. Dinah lay half in her lap and half on the ground, kneeling. Her voice whispered, groggy. "..poison..."
"Don't worry." Barbara soothed her. "I'm here. We've got you."
A glance at Helena showed her pinning Quinn down. Quinn stopped struggling, her face a mask of blood with her lip split wide open and blood smeared down her nose. Then Quinn laughed.
Everyone except Quinn froze.
The sound chased fear along Barbara's nerves. "What's so funny darling." she snapped.
Quinn still laughed but tried to get the words out, nearly choking on blood and mirth. "And you wonder why I want you? You wonder why you're the woman meant to be mine? Who else would have caught me like this?"
"It was a group effort." The red head told her, not seeing the humor of the situation, not seeing it at all.
"Here, here." Helena added, feral eyes on Quinn. She longed to finish the woman off, every line of her body promised violence.
"I told you before Quinn, I hate guns." Barbara hugged Dinah a little closer, shivering under the cold from the sprinklers still raining down on them all.
Quinn continued to laugh. Her words were for Barbara but her eyes stayed glued on Helena. "Now Ivy dear, why would a need a gun when all I needed was your kiss?"
At those words, Helena swayed, and slid down, fell over to the side of Quinn. All four of them were so close that Barbara could see the spreading bluish tinge to Helena's lips, the pallor of her skin and the rapid rise and fall of her chest. In dawning horror, she realized Dinah's earlier utterances had been an attempt at a warning. Barbara's green eyes moved to meet the waiting Quinn's who lay by Helena's prone form unmoving except her laughter and that awful smile.
"Do you understand now, dearest Barbara? You are Poison Ivy."
And Quinn laughed, laughed while Helena died from the red head's kiss.
Barbara stared, frozen at the sight of Helena appearing lifeless on the cold wet floor, Dinah limp in Barbara's arms, and Quinn staying where she lay, her eyes all for Barbara, a cold, dark burning within her gaze.
"What's the matter darling? Don't you like my surprise?"
"What have you done? Helena? Helena!" Fear flowed through Barbara's veins like ice water.
She let go of Dinah who sagged fully to her knees, upper body bowed over them, visibly fighting to stay conscious. Barbara gave up staying in her chair, she slid off of it and down onto the linoleum, freezing wet immediately soaking her jeans, chilling already chilled skin where she still had sensation. She dragged herself the very short distance to Helena. The woman's lips were definitely blue, her breathing shallow, her pulse frantic but weak, so very weak. Barbara shouted Helena's name again, slapped her once, and nothing. Helena's eyes were barely open and if they saw anything, Barbara couldn't tell.
"God help you Quinn, whatever you've done undo it. Undo it now!" Control left Barbara in this new terror, the horror of losing Helena after only just finding her. Of Helena having brought Barbara back to herself and to Helena. She couldn't lose her, not like this. She wouldn't allow it.
"Me? What have I done?" Quinn's voice brimmed with malicious mirth and her own blood. "You're the one who kissed her. You're the one who's killed her."
"But it's all so true lover. Tell her Dinah, you sweet young thing, tell our precious Barbara if I'm telling the truth." Quinn didn't look over at Dinah but kept her gaze glued to the red head.
"Truth." Dinah panted, fighting to speak."...the needle...tried to tell you. Poison."
Barbara inhaled sharply. "The one I took before I left. The one you told me was a cure."
Quinn's mangled face smiled up at Barbara. "That's right. When you weren't looking I gave myself the poison. What you gave me was exactly what I said, a serum for the reaction. But what you gave yourself was something special. A little something I picked up from my time with Pamela, like the drugged dart I gave your friend. So useful, the things you take away from relationships."
"What you did, tell me how to fix it. How do I save her?" Barbara held Helena to her helplessly, nearly weeping at how limp and frail Helena's body was. She held her carefully, not touching Helena's skin directly. "Hold on Hel. Hold on."
"You don't." Quinn answered in regard to a cure, a fix. "What you injected yourself with was something special. I can't replicate the toxins and chemicals that turned Ivy into what she is, but I learned enough with the help of some scientists how to get the reaction I wanted from you. Your kisses kill now Barbara. And there's nothing you can do about it."
"You know the cure for the reaction. You gave one to yourself." But there wouldn't be time to analyze Quinn's blood to synthesize an antidote for Helena. Time, they were trapped by it, and Quinn's vindictive machinations.
The older blonde watched Barbara cradling Helena. "I won't tell you."
Hate mixed with the thick taste of terror, like acid on her tongue. "Yes, you will."
Quinn stopped smiling. "I won't Barbara. I won't because I can't have you. Because I couldn't have Helena because she wanted you. Because after all our time together you still choose her even with only half your memories. This way I destroy you both."
Barbara wanted to shake the woman, wanted to scream. All she could do was hold Helena and watch her die. She cursed Quinn, for all the good it would do them all. "May you rot Quinn. You useless, waste of a life. Stupid, crazy, worthless person that you are."
A gargled noise from Quinn who leaned up on her elbows bringing her face very close to Barbara's. Close enough to kiss. "I probably will rot. And maybe I have wasted my life but hardly stupid Barbara, not when compared to you. You call me crazy when you lived all these years in denial over what you could have had with her. To hell with you and your untouchable self. Not just your body, what little you let me taste of it, but your self, that inner core you protect unto death. That part of your soul you keep untouched deep within you that you don't let anyone near. Helena would kill for you, right now she's dying for you and you never, as Barbara, gave yourself over to that love. I may be insane and a sociopath, but even I give myself over to love completely. However twisted my love may be. Who have you ever given yourself completely to? Not sweet boring Wade, the poster boy of normalcy and white picket fences. Not any lover, I think. In my time with Helena I knew she loved you, has loved only you. All she has to offer she would give you and still you won't give in. You tell me which one of us is crazier." Quinn measured Barbara, and from her expression, liked what she saw, both the torment, and the woman. "You don't kill. And even if you could, I still wouldn't tell you how you could save her."
Barbara raised the gun she had found on the floor and pointed it straight at Quinn's head. Staring down the barrel into those suddenly wide brown eyes, Barbara didn't smile, nor did she raise her voice when she said, "Let's test that theory."
She clicked the safety off the gun.
Memory can be an odd thing. Emotions alone can wreak havoc with it. And so it was that Barbara, a woman with near perfect memory, couldn't remember taking the gun into her slender hand. Oh, she remembered it sliding on the ground just past Helena and out of Quinn's reach. She even remembered catching it in her periphery when she took Helena into her arms where it lay by the other woman, almost behind the two of them, and Quinn in front of them. Yet, Barbara couldn't remember her hand finding the cold metal. She couldn't remember gripping it. Couldn't remember raising it. All Barbara knew was that she held it now aimed at Quinn's head and her hand didn't waver, not a little bit, not at all.
Quinn, perverse creature that Barbara knew her to be, raised herself up on her elbows to bring her head right up against the barrel of the gun. That face filled with loathing, for Barbara, for Helena, or for them all, Barbara didn't know. "I will do it Quinn. I'll shoot you."
"You mean kill me." The blonde woman corrected, eyes large and dark and filled with things Barbara didn't want to know.
"Yes, I mean kill you."
"I thought you hated guns?" Damn, the woman would play with her until one or the other of them were in the grave.
"I do." And she did. It also didn't escape Barbara's notice that it was almost full circle in an odd way. Joker had shot her, and Batman finally captured him leaving Quinn to fend for herself, leaving her in charge, leaving her to become what she was now. And now here Barbara was holding the gun on Quinn. There was an odd translateral symmetry to it.
Dark eyes went from Barbara's set face to the hand holding the gun, and back to her face again. "Why shoot when you could simply kill me with a kiss? Kiss me with the same poison I tricked you into injecting so that you'd kill Helena if you kissed her. Which you did. Come my dear, kiss me to kill me."
They were close enough to kiss. All Barbara had to do was close that short distance between them. Helena lay, a heavy weight in her arms. The water stopped suddenly, the sprinklers having used up their water supply. It left the hallway cold and damp, though Barbara could only feel it from her hip and up. It wasn't the water, or the linoleum that truly made her cold.
"The serum would still be in your system Quinn." She told the waiting woman. "But even if it wasn't, I'd shoot you. If I didn't have a gun, I would beat you to death. Your only choice is to help me save Helena or you end."
Dinah's tight, struggling voice came from where she had stayed, a hunched over figure. "Barbara, please, please don't do this."
"I'm out of options here Dinah. Unless you can read her."
Never taking her eyes off of Quinn, Barbara saw the younger blonde in her visual range fight to straighten up. But even from the side glance, Barbara could see the unfocused, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils. Dinah tried to move towards them but almost fell from the movement. She had next to no usable vision at this point, couldn't even focus enough for balance. She couldn't read Quinn. The girl couldn't even crawl.
"Forget it Dinah. Don't worry. It'll work out." Barbara lied, voice filled a with confidence she lacked.
"Really? Do tell." The older woman coaxed, flirted even while blood still slid down her chin in a large line. Even while her face continued to swell and bruise from the beating Helena had given her minutes ago.
For a brief moment, as Barbara caught a glimpse of the rising sun through the windows of the entrance behind Quinn, she imagined that she was lying on a beach, wet from sea water after soaking and splashes and Helena making teasing comments while looking fetching in a bikini that really should cover more skin. Barbara wished they were anywhere except here, with Quinn, and Barbara getting ready to shoot. But they weren't on a beach. That wasn't why they were wet. And Helena didn't lay in her arms laughing.
"If Helena dies," Barbara explained very carefully, very quietly. Death usually was very quiet, the way it suddenly was just there. "You die. You want to live Harley, you give me answers and save her before it's too late for both of you." For all of us.
A weight settled in Quinn's expression, resolve. "My life for Helena's? No deal lover. You're going to have to destroy all of us, because I won't save anyone. Ever."
Frustrated desperation twisted into cruelty, into a malice that was Barbara's own. "Why not Quinn? Helena's life for yours. It's a cheap sell I'll admit, I mean what are you actually truly worth? You're nothing more than a has-been, washed up criminal. You know why you keep latching onto people like the Joker, Ivy, and let's not forget me?. Even though you helped me to forget so much. The reason you attach yourself to others is because you're second rate Harleen. You have no creativity. A drugged dart." Barbara scoffed, choosing the words she knew would hurt the most, push Quinn the most. "Pamela's old tricks. Pamela's old toxins. You see? You always have to follow Harleen. That's why you fail time and again, because you'd don't have a single innovative, original thought in that vapid, dyed blonde head of yours. That's why you'll never be more than a tag-along, a third wheel, unwanted...because you're not good enough to anything more than someone's flunkey."
She picked the words that would cut better than any knife. All that time with Quinn she had learned the other woman's weaknesses. And she used them now because god help her, even with Helena dying in her arms, she wasn't sure that she could pull the trigger. At least not without Quinn attacking her first.
Quinn's face tightened, eyes narrowed and the line of her mouth thinned in anger. Barbara braced herself for the attack but it never came, the blonde only shook her head slowly and spoke as carefully as Barbara had, just as precise in its aim to wound.
"I won't help you pull that trigger. You have to make the decision, whether as Ivy, Barbara, or both. You're going to have to do it all by yourself."
In that moment Barbara realized something she hadn't before, Harley Quinn wanted to die by Barbara's hand. She really wanted the redhead to pull the trigger and do it. Barbara remembered their last few conversations when she still believed she was Ivy, and Quinn had seemed...lonely. At least, very alone. It was a position, an emotion, Barbara could sympathize with but nothing could hold up against Helena dying. And the dark woman would, Barbara had no illusions about that. The only reason Helena still lived at all was that her metahuman metabolism and healing factor were fighting the toxins. It was the only chance Helena had. The only chance Barbara had, because even with so much of her memory still in question, even holding the gun to Quinn's waiting, wanting presence, Barbara realized she couldn't do it. Even if she had no memory left she doubted she'd be able to do it. It wasn't in her to kill, no matter what she thought she was, who she thought she was or might be. She couldn't kill. She wouldn't.
Both hand and gun dropped like a stone. In a voice filled with defeat, Barbara said, "I won't Quinn. If you want to die you'll have to pull the trigger all by yourself." She held onto Helena tighter, warm tears leaking past her lids to spill down her cheeks and onto the wet black duster. "Hold on Helena. Hold on and keep fighting. You can beat this. We both can. Fight. Fight for the both of us." she pleaded.
A strangled sound of frustration came from Quinn. Barbara raised sharp green eyes, oblivious to the tears streaking her face, and told the other woman fiercely, "If you move an inch, I won't kill you, but I will wound you Quinn. I'll make you bleed, of that you can have no doubt because you know me well enough to know I will do it. So lay back down and play dead because that's all you've got."
"I won't." The blonde ground out, fists clenching. "Haven't you paid attention? I used to be Helena's therapist. I know all about her years of you not letting her in, of always holding yourself back. You don't have all you memories yet, but when you do you'll just withdraw from her and everyone else you care for all over again. It's who you are, it's what you are. You'll gain nothing by remembering, or by staying by her. You'll pull away and she'll leave you. If she lives it will only be to say goodbye once she realizes nothing has changed."
Barbara wanted to argue, but she couldn't. What Quinn said may very well be true. "Maybe. But you won't be in that picture."
"Neither will you." Quinn reminded her.
"So be it." And Barbara meant it. No matter what kind of future, what kind of reality waited for them, as long as Helena was alive in it, it was better than any alternative without her. Maybe Barbara could have survived, could have salvaged herself if she had committed murder, but she would never be able to survive losing Helena.
Quinn lay back down and laughed. It was an angry, vicious sound that hurt the ears, filled with loathing. Hate for herself, for them all. "You know it really is too bad Barbara. If you were truly Ivy you could have saved her."
"Shut up, Quinn." Truth though, if she had truly been Pamela Isley, she might have a chance at saving Helena. She carefully moved her head to ensure her tears didn't fall on Helena's skin. Just in case even her tears held the toxin that was passed in her kiss.
Barbara stayed on the floor holding Helena helplessly, praying for a miracle. The hall was deathly quiet without the sound of sprinklers running filling the air. All she heard was dripping water and the sound of four people breathing in the tense stillness.
"You were such a wonderful Poison Ivy. It really is a shame." Quinn added, a weak wounding but one that still stung.
"Shut up, Quinn or I'll shoot you in the leg."
The still air filled with moisture, not the water covering everything from the sprinklers, but a sudden humidity rose in the hall. Popping and slithering sounds rose too. Barbara lifted her head to watch in alarm as greenery began to cover lockers, the floor, the ceiling, like a rising wave of verdant color. Blooms sprouted breaking through locker doors, and parts of the floor and ceiling. Drywall crumbled as leaves and vines burst forth. A myriad of tropical colors and scents swam in the room as things bloomed that had never seen a Gotham morning, let alone were seen anywhere in the North American continent.
"What's going on?" Quinn breathed, as astounded as Barbara. Dinah and Helena were too close to unconsciousness to be aware of the drastic change in the environment.
Movement drew Barbara's gaze to the entrance and she gasped. There, standing strong, covered in only foliage, her legs and arms bare, the skin a pale hue of green, stood a tall woman with hair a lighter shade of red than Barbara's. Here lips were as red as poppy. And the woman's eyes were the green of Amazon Forests.
"Poison Ivy." Quinn gasped.
Poison Ivy looked down on them and her lips curled in a smile as unforgiving as Nature herself. "Now Harl, didn't I warn you about taking my name in vain?"
Poison Ivy moved into the school that now resembled no school at all, but a tropical jungle riddled here and there with cracked linoleum and bent lockers. The Sun followed behind her making her hair seem a blaze of sunset red cloaking her and her skin a nimbus pale green. All of it overshadowed by the vibrant merciless deep green of her eyes that held her quarry.
"You've been busy Harl." And the words, though they sounded on the surface as friendly and benign as drops of water, her voice coiled around Barbara like the vines around the room. "With many things but particularly with your new...friend.."
"I'm not her friend." Barbara said firmly, but she held Helena to her more tightly and her eyes strayed to the gun beside her.
"Man's weapons. Man's metal as he rapes the Earth." Ivy's tone darkened, like rich earth and things unseen. Like the earth over a grave. The vines around them twisted and rustled as they slithered, agitated. "I'll not have it near me." Before Barbara could react a thorny green tendril whipped the gun away into the dense green and wild jungle surrounding them.
"Ivy," Quinn ensured the worst side of her bruised face showed in the light, "thank goodness you came. I don't know what dragged you from your island, but I'm so glad! Now you can help fix this. Things can be the way they were meant to be."
That relentless, rending stare swung to Quinn. "My island. Indeed, I wanted nothing more than to stay there with my lovelies. Away from the stink of cities and the corruption of men. But the wind blew from the west and whispered such things to me that I didn't believe them. Then birds came and told me the same thing. That they saw me here. And so I had to leave my refuge, my sanity, to come here to do what I've always had to do Harley," the last words fell like stones, " clean up your mess."
"Don't be angry." Quinn whispered and Barbara believed she was truly afraid. Barbara was.
"Angry?" A smile curled on those blood red lips and they did nothing to quell Barbara's growing sense of alarm. Those lips curled like a snake ready to strike, sure of its mark. "Do I seem angry to you Harleen? After all, by you dragging my name into it the authorities might try to hunt me down thinking it was me returned to my old ways. They might even come to my island. My island Harleen." The woman hadn't moved another step and yet she seemed to loom over them all by force of personality alone.
Helena convulsed in Barbara's tense arms. In an equally tense voice Barbara spoke into the charged room, "As much as I can understand you having an issue with Quinn, get in line. I don't have time for it right now. I need to help Helena. Will you help me?"
That unnerving gaze snared her, Poison Ivy took in her sodden appearance, the overturned wheelchair and the pale woman held in Barbara's arms.
"A curious choice Harley. She is lovely. What is your name, that is, before you stole mine?" The vines around Barbara rustled on that last word, reacting to their mistress' ire.
"Barbara Gordon." Quinn answered quickly, her words rushed. "She never had your fire though, your convictions."
Poison Ivy's eyes lit with a most unpleasant light. "By that you mean she wouldn't kill. You always were such a bloodthirsty creature underneath that jokester's facade you used to wear. And now you're being true to yourself it seems, trying to take over the city. But as usual Harl you keep messing up. You shouldn't have pulled me into it this time. You know how I disapprove of abusing women for my goals."
"I'm no one's victim." Barbara ground out, not caring where this seemed to be going at all. "You two can have your reunion or whatever. You want to undo the damage that Quinn's done in your name Ivy? You can start right here and now by saving this woman in my arms. Quinn poisoned her and she'll die without treatment. It won't only be Quinn's name attached to her death, they'll do a toxicology report and your poison will turn up. You'll be wanted for murder, the murder of a billionaire's daughter. They'll rend your island with strike forces and blowtorches to get to you. So if you want to save your island and all that's in it, save Helena now."
A few strides and Ivy was right in front of where Barbara sat on the ground, Helena cradled carefully in her arms. Venomous green eyes rove over the pale shaking form Barbara held and then met Barbara's stare. Ivy crouched down and Barbara reacted. "Don't you dare touch her."
A sunset eyebrow arched. "You're either very brave or very foolish Barbara Gordon. What makes you think that you could possibly stop me?"
Barbara may not have remembered all that she was, all that she could do, but she knew what she needed to know when it came to protecting the woman dying in her arms. "For her," she gestured with her chin to Helena's prone body, "there's nothing I wouldn't do, or try to, if it meant it would save her. Your touch is poison Ivy. And I'll do everything in my capabilities to ensure you don't speed her down the path Quinn set her on."
Both of Ivy's brows rose at that. "You're in love with her. How...surprising. Brave and beautiful. There's steel in you. Quinn may have chosen better than she knew. You would have had to have been intelligent too, to have been able to duplicate some of my chemical compounds. They're not easy. Not even for advanced chemists. Only the Batman had antidotes for them, and even he couldn't find the antidotes for them all."
"I'm not responsible for this poison. You have Quinn to thank for that."
"Now Barbara, that's entirely untrue." Quinn supplied eagerly. "It was you that kissed our dear, sweet Helena after all. You who poisoned her all because you couldn't keep yourself off of her."
"Call her yours one more time and with Ivy here or not, I will hurt you Quinn." Barbara didn't mean it as a threat, it was a promise. The mere sound of Quinn's voice now caused a surge of violent aggression to sweep through Barbara. All of this, her lost memories, the actions she took believing she had been Ivy, Dinah wounded, and Helena dying, Barbara lay it all soundly at Quinn's feet and Barbara was not a forgiving person. She was an exacting one.
She turned to Ivy who was still far too close for Barbara's comfort. "Quinn stole my memories, convinced me I was you. I have some of them back and I remember some of the facts about you Ivy. Enough to know that the man you worked for cruelly used you to test his toxins on. That you were changed against your will. Quinn saw an opportunity to recreate you using me, stealing my memories and trying to make me into another Poison Ivy. She tricked me, drugged me, and now my kisses can kill. I didn't know it until Helena became like she is now. If you have any human feeling left in you, if you truly hated what that man did to you, then you must hate what Quinn's done to me. So please Pamela," Barbara gambled all her hopes on this woman she had been a pale shadow of who crouched before her, lethal, likely psychotic but Barbara's only hope to save the person who had risked everything to save her, "help me fix this. Don't let the young woman in my arms be another fatality to the evil that man began and Quinn continued. Help me save Helena."
Ivy's eyes, jade green and just as hard, narrowed to Quinn where the blond lay, watching them. "Harl, you seem to have become far too busy while I've been away. It might be better that you return to the island with me. There we can discuss your latest...projects. And their consequences."
That voice was even harder than Ivy's stare, and Quinn reacted to it. "I would love to spend time with you Ivy, but really there's no need-"
Barbara broke in, heedless of the danger of getting between these two unstable women. One putting jungles above human lives, the other willing to do anything to twist the jungles within the human mind. "Harley's right." She startled both women with that. She continued, clipped striving to control her rage at it all, at Quinn. "Harl belongs here where she can pay for her crimes through the courts and justice served, and her locked up in Arkham with the key thrown away."
Ivy measured Barbara with her stare. "You're talking about vengeance, not justice. You want her to pay for what she's done to you, and what you hold her responsible for the state of your lover."
"Yes, that's what I want."
"I'll hurt her for you." Ivy offered with an unpleasant gleam in her verdant eyes.
"Now wait Ivy, let's think this through. After all, we have a shared history," Quinn began, but she never had the chance to finish. Thick vines snaked and slithered to wind themselves around her, stilling her movements towards Ivy, as well as a thick vine across her mouth, stilling her words just as effectively. Blood trickled down her face in a couple of spots where thorns cut into her. Harley's brown eyes went large and watered with the pain.
"No," Barbara breathed. Even unable to remember all of herself, this, what Ivy was doing, was wrong. Barbara knew it to the core of her soul despite her desire to hurt Quinn. Hit her. This wasn't the way. It wasn't Barbara's way. "Not like this."
Blood red lips pursed at Barbara's answer and Ivy's lithe form leaned towards her, almost close enough for their faces to touch.
"What would you give, Barbara Gordon, to save your love?"
"Everything that I am, all that I have." Barbara answered without pause or thought.
Ivy shook her head slowly, entrancingly. "But you already confessed that you don't even have yourself Barbara Gordon. Half memories, two half lives. The person you barely can recall being and the person you mistakenly believed you were. I ask you again, what would you give me for to save what you cherish?"
"Would you give Harley's?" Mouth still parted, Speculative eyes waited for Barbara's answer.
Barbara looked from the two of them, the bound and bleeding form of Quinn to the anticipatory crouched woman leaning far too close, face too eager.
"Everything costs Barbara Gordon. A truth I think you already know. And the more you want something, the higher the price that is set. You want salvation on one hand, and forgo vengeance for justice on the other. I won't let you have both. My vengeance for your cure."
Helena's life was ticking away with each second, shivering in Barbara's arms. She didn't want to give in to Ivy, to anyone. She wanted Helena safe and whole again. It meant going against what a half-remembered part of her believed deeply. However, she loved Helena more than she hated Quinn. Or maybe her hate for Quinn is what helped her decision and proved she was less Barbara Gordon that she had thought.
"Quinn for the cure." She told Poison Ivy.
Ivy smiled and this time it was full and beautiful, like sun shining down after a rain storm. A pale green hand rose, slender fingers moved to touch Barbara's cheek. She immediately pulled her head back, inhaling suddenly.
"Shhh," Ivy crooned, "you have nothing to fear from such a light touch." Holding herself rigid, Barbara allowed the graceful hand to touch her. Ivy's hands were warmer than Barbara thought they'd be. They traced Barbara' jaw, a thumb came to trace the outer curve of her bottom lip.
"I've never kissed another woman before except Harley. Let alone one with such dark red hair." Ivy confessed, her words alarming Barbara.
"You never said anything about a kiss." Barbara swallowed and fought against her urge to pull back again.
"Everything has a price Barbara Gordon," Ivy told her, voice low and lulling, "part of the price for you will be pleasure." And then Ivy kissed Barbara, there in the wet air, Helena still tight in Barbara's arms.
She couldn't pull away, the touch of moist velvet lips and the sheer taste of Ivy overwhelmed Barbara. As Ivy parted Barbara's mouth and sank her tongue into humid depths, Barbara's upper body convulsed unintentionally. Until this moment, Barbara never knew Nature had a particular taste. And yet kissing Ivy it all lay there, pulled Barbara under. The taste of Sun and rain, of Spring showers and Fall leaves. She was overcome with the sense of potential and life, like the ripe buds of flowers ready to burst open and flower, to bloom, to live. And yet still underneath there was the essence of rich, dark earth, cool and quiet, so quiet even while life and earth danced behind Barbara's closed lids, the power of Ivy's kiss raced and stormed over Barbara's merely human senses. She couldn't take all of it in and only when Ivy released her could Barbara come back to herself, not through any will of her own but only through Ivy's choice to do so. Air, still thick with the taste of green dragged into Barbara's lungs as she fought to come back to herself. It was then that she realized she was lying on her back, her whole body limp and unresponsive. Helena lay across her hips and legs while Poison Ivy watched Barbara, an enigmatic expression over the Earth Goddess' face.
"Sweet." Ivy said. "Far sweeter than I could have imagined, all fire and blood." She gave a last lingering caress of her mouth to Barbara's, sending the younger woman's senses reeling again. And then Poison Ivy stood.
"You almost make me wish it was you I was taking with me, and not Harley." A jolt of terror raced through Barbara at the consideration in the dark green gaze.
It took two tries, but Barbara managed to force words past her hoarse throat. "Helena."
A perfectly sculpted eyebrow arched at her. "Your Helena is meta Barbara Gordon. My poison was designed for humans. There's no antidote made to deal with a meta's physiology. In fact, since every meta's physiology is unique, that would be nearly impossible."
Fear spiked through Barbara, she'd been double-crossed. She struggled again to move and couldn't. "You promised," her words a scraping of sound, "the cure for Helena and you get Quinn."
Poison Ivy laughed and it raised hairs along Barbara's arms. "I promised you a cure. I never promised one of Helena specifically. Besides, there was never anything I could do for her. She'll have to fight it out herself. Hopefully her meta capabilities will help her."
"Then what...have you done to me?" As Barbara tried to move and still could not.
"The toxins in your system Barbara. A kiss of mine to fight fire with fire. Of course, considering my higher level of toxicity, that leaves room for...error. Right now your body is feeling the effects of the touch of my lips. It shouldn't kill you. And when you recover, you'll be perfectly human once again."
Barbara turned her head, could only watch while Ivy stepped over Dinah's still prone body to have vines lift Quinn's struggling form and be carried alongside Ivy as she began to walk away.
"You leave Quinn." Barbara raged against the constraints of her body, of toxins in her system, of despair blooming in her heart like a terrible flower. "You lied."
"I mislead you slightly to get what I wanted." The tall green woman turned to regard Barbara one last time. "I'm Poisson Ivy, I take what I want and play by my own rules. That's who I am Barbara Gordon. I'll always treasure the memory of your kiss, even while you curse me for it."
Poison Ivy left, taking Quinn with her, leaving a scent of tropical worlds in her wake, and three women prone on the floor.
Barbara's vision grayed at the edges, panic gripped her. If she lost consciousness then how could she possibly try to help Helena? But it was a battle she was doomed to lose as her nerves suddenly raced with fire and she tried to scream only to be swallowed by darkness.
With awareness came pain. Pain in piercing colors of red, yellow and white slashing across Barbra's eyelids. Her joints flared up, every muscle she could sense ached to, and through, her very bones. She tried to swallow, to speak, only to find her throat swollen shut. She struggled against the pain and her waning consciousness. Pressure held her attempts still and voices that she vaguely recognized filtered through.
"She's fighting it!" The blonde...Dinah's voice. "We have to do something!"
"There is very little we can do Miss Dinah," a British voice that seemed familiar spoke. "We must wait for the antidote Master Bruce provided with the use of the serum sample Miss Barbara had with her to do its work. He assured me that it, along with the counter toxins from Poison Ivy's kiss, should be help pull Miss Barbara through. She will need a great deal of rest. As do you and Miss Helena with the amount of worry and sleepless nights searching for her have caused you. It would help both of our charges to get that rest if she would, however, let go of Miss Helena's hand so that they could both sleep in their own beds and not crowd each other by accidentally pulling out the IV. Twice."
Questions tried to crowd Barbara's foggy mind. One however surged through her, a need beyond the pain, deeper than fever. Helena. She struggled again, fighting to speak and ask what she needed to know.
"She won't settle down." Dinah's voice ground through Barbara's struggling fight to consciousness.
"Helena." Dinah said. "She's scared about Helena." The girl's voice softened, "She's fighting it Barbara, she's right next to you on the bed. You won't let go of her hand. You don't have to be so scared. It looks like she should pull through. Honestly, we're more worried about you right now. You need to rest. See?" Barbara felt one of the hands on her shoulders move and then added weight to her hand which seemed entangled with another's. "See? That's Helena. She's sleeping it off. You need to do the same. Please Barbara, for her. We promise we won't try to pull her away from you again." The girl sounded so achingly sincere, and so concerned.
Helena was safe. And Helena was close. She felt the hand in hers, and relief washed through her like cool soothing water. Barbara relaxed against the hands holding her down and surrendered to the darkness she could no longer hold at bay.
Dreams came. Often odd, disjointed and switching from nightmare to fragmented moments of reality as Barbara would half-wake, fevered and fighting against opponents, sometimes faceless, other times all too recognizable, only to have persistent hands hold her down and at times the pinch of a needle that promised oblivion for a time. Soothing voices would tell her it wasn't the blonde in her dreams trying to poison her again but Barbara couldn't be sure. She could only relax when she felt the presence of the woman with dark hair and the most beautiful eyes. Helena's presence provided a gentle warmth that she wished she could get lost in and lose all her pain. Only when Helena was near her, reassuring her with touches and a comforting contralto voice did Barbara relax and the hold of her nightmares loosen enough for her to find rest again.
Days or hours later, Barbara couldn't be certain, did she finally wake fully. She opened her eyes to find herself in a bedroom. At first she wondered where, as it wasn't the bedroom she knew as hers for the past months. Then she remembered it was her room in the penthouse of the clock tower. Home. The other place wasn't home, it had been a lie. Her name was Barbara Gordon. She took a breath, the first one she could recall in an eternity that was free of pain, and then, reassured, she took another.
Tentatively, she tried some small movements. She wiggled her fingers, rolled her shoulders and took a few deep, expansive breaths. Weak, a little shaky, but no pain. A sigh of gratitude and relief passed through her.
"Barbara?" An exhausted voice asked to her left.
Barbara turned and saw Helena draped over a chair, rubbing her eyes, her hair and clothes mussed form sleep. "You've been keeping watch?" She asked but ended up coughing, her throat too dry for words.
Helena spilled out of the chair towards her and reached blindly around the bedside table as Barbra convulsed with choking coughs. "Shit. Sorry. Here, try to sip some of this."
Barbara found a glass of water held to her. She tried to grab it, but her hands shook too much. She ended up having to relent and allow Helena to hold the cup. Barbara's own hands covered the other woman's around the cup, a gesture of independence rather than any true triumph of being able to do it herself. Helena held the glass steady to her lips and Barbara gratefully swallowed the cool water, the terrible nagging itchiness in her throat subsiding with each swallow.
"Careful," Helena urged, sliding herself partially onto the bed to sit beside Barbara, "don't gulp."
When she was certain she wouldn't have another coughing fit, Barbara relented. Only then did she let her hands fall from Helena's. They fell onto the sheets covering her body. Peach cotton sheets, so unusual to see when she had been used to deep green silk for so long.
A light touch to her cheek, quickly withdrawn, brought her attention back to the beautiful woman on her bed. Anxious blue-violet eyes met hers. "Do you...Do you know who I am?"
Her brows hiked up to her hairline in surprise, it took a moment for Barbara to understand what was being asked of her. When she did, she smiled reassuringly at the younger woman and grasped the withdrawn hand between her own. "Of course I do Hel. You're the dearest person in my life along with my father, ex-commissioner Gordon. And there's Alfred, who's probably serving chamomile tea to my father and Dinah in the living room right now to help soothe their nerves while they wait to see if I'm all right. How do I rank on the memory test so far?"
The dark woman's entire body seemed to sag with relief. "Barbara I'm..." Helena's voice broke and a flood of emotions crowded those now tearing eyes.
"Come here." Barbara tugged the body those hands she held belonged to until Helena moved into Barbara's body, melting into Barbara as she encircled Helena with her arms. Barbara hugged Helena to her as tightly as she could, which wasn't much but still was all that was needed. The weight of the woman's body in her arms, the breath on her cheek, the hair that mingled dark with her red, even the warm wet drops falling onto her shoulder all reassured Barbara that this is where she belonged, and unlike so many nights of elusive dreams, this moment was real.
Barbara would have stayed like that, content, for longer but she needed answers. "You and Dinah are both okay?"
"We're fine." Helena answered quietly. "Alfred arrived back up at the school about ten minutes after Ivy left. At least that's what I was told. Dinah came to around then. Quinn used a short acting tranq on her. Thank God. I don't know how they would have gotten the two of us out of there in time otherwise."
"And Harl-ey Quinn?" Barbara nearly bit through her lip at the stumble over the name. And she regretted speaking it immediately as she felt Helena stiffen, and worse, move away.
Roughly, her friend rubbed at damp eyes and face keeping a slender back to Barbara. "Nowhere. She and the real Poison Ivy were long gone by the time any of us were up to doing something."
Barbara tried to reach for Helena again, a hand to the leg closest to her. "I didn't mean to hurt you by asking."
"You haven't done anything wrong Barbara." The voice held anger. Barbara wasn't sure she believed her.
"Are you sure about that?" After all, as Ivy she had done a great deal wrong. And stayed away from all she didn't remember. And now speaking Harley's - Quinn's name, it had to have stung Helena.
She gasped when Helena swung back to face her and Barbara saw eyes fully augmented into vertical feline slits of fury. "What I'm sure about is that when I find Quinn she's dead. Road kill. And Ivy too. That psycho could have killed you when she kissed you, filling you with more poison. If I had been stronger, faster, you would have been safe. Quinn never would have taken you to begin with. God, and you're sitting there after having nearly died asking me if I'm angry with you? You have every right to throw me out of your room and your life for not protecting you from them."
Of course, Barbara should have realized Helena would blame herself. "Don't make the mistake of putting Quinn's crimes on your shoulders Hel. Remember, if it weren't for you not giving up on finding me, and then coming to get me, even fighting me at the school, I might still not remember who I am."
"I couldn't do a thing while Poison Ivy kissed you."
"Neither could I." Barbara admitted. Then she nearly hit herself trying to move further away from Helena, sudden fear filling her. "Helena, you touched me. Am I clean? What if I've poisoned you again? You'd better wash-"
"Whoa Barbara, calm down, it's okay." Helena pleaded with Barbara but the red head couldn't shake the image of Helena dying in her arms, her body so pale.
"Here Barbara, check it." Helena took the glass of water that was nearly empty, the one Barbara had drunk from and before Barbara could stop her, the intent woman put her lips directly over the spot Barbara had sipped from and then emptied the glass, smacking her lips after. "You see? No fuss, no muss and no poisoned me. All's good. Honest. You're completely clean of the poisons in your system."
"God," Barbara rubbed at her face, shaking with more than just physical weakness. "Are you sure Helena? Absolutely certain my system is free of the toxins?"
Helena sat closer to her, those feline eyes back to normal. "Positive. Alfred can give you the big mumbo jumbo science geek talk about it. We also found some kind of derivative of Sodium Amytal in your blood. We think that's what Quinn was using to keep you from remembering your past after she no longer had her hypnosis powers."
Barbara ran a hand through her long dishevelled hair. "That woman has a lot to answer for."
An indelicate huff escaped the dark woman. "There's a line forming. We're all in it, believe me. We'll find her Barbara. The world isn't that big when the all-seeing Oracle and her mighty Rolodex of vigilantes are at work."
"Yeah, the world isn't that large." Green eyes narrowed in contemplation.
"Hey, you want me to get the gang? They'll all want to know you're okay. Your dad wore a few carpets out."
Barbara leaned back against the bed's headboard looking down at the strange peach sheets that felt so rough after so long on silk. "My father. Damn. You'd better send them all in if they're out there."
Picking up on her reluctance, Helena got up and walked around to Barbara's side of the bed. The dark woman bent low enough that their faces were level. "If you want, I'll keep the eager masses at bay for as along as I can. Buy you some minutes to pull yourself together?"
So kind, was Helena always this kind? Barbara reached up and threaded fingers through wild dark hair. "I'd love that, but truthfully, they've been so worried about me. You'd better send them in."
Helena's beautiful bow shaped mouth frowned. "Truthfully Barbara, I'll do whatever you need. I was told your memory will come back in time. Almost, if not all of it. So if there's still some big holes there and you're not happy with a crowd, I'll keep people off you for as long as you need until you feel ready to meet and greet. Just tell me what you want. How much do you remember?"
Almost, if not all of it.
How much do you remember?
"Don't worry Helena. I think it's all back except a few...gaps." She lied smoothly to Helena. Too easily, but she couldn't take it back.
A scent tickled her nose. Something unusual. That she should have noticed sooner. Barbara followed her nose and saw the gardenias on the bedside table. "Who brought those?"
"These? Your dad brought them in. They were delivered this morning. I didn't think to ask, but there's a card." Eyes twinkled at Barbara as Helena fished the card out and handed it to her. "Don't worry, I didn't peek."
Frowning now, Barbara took the card regarding Helena as she opened it. "They're not from you?"
Mildly bewildered, Helena shook her head. "Flowers are a bit too traditional for me Red. Not my style. But what makes you think I must have sent them?"
"Gardenias stand for unrequited love," Barbara answered automatically, a cold pit forming in her gut. "If not you, then who else?"
"What does the card say?" Helena's tone lowered, menace rising. The dark woman guessed at who it might be and didn't like the answer.
"They're not from Quinn." Barbara said, refusing to look at the card. She didn't want to read what was there.
"Then who?" And now Helena's voice was a low growl. "Read the card Barbara."
She didn't want to, she dearly didn't want to, but she read the aloud the words that were scrawled in lovely dark green script. "Thinking of your kiss."
"And the signature?"
"There isn't any." But there didn't need to be. Barbara knew who had sent it.
"Then who?" Helena asked again, feral eyes blazed into Barbara's, seeing the knowledge that lay there in green depths. "Quinn?"
"Ivy." Barbara nodded and looked away from Helena's gaze in case she saw too much in Barbara's face. The feel of Ivy's lips, of the overwhelming sensation of her kiss too visceral a memory that Barbara didn't dare share.
"How did you know it was her and not Quinn?" Barbara could see Helena's hands balled tightly into fists, the dark woman's whole frame trembling with the need for violence.
"Because," and the cold unease in Barbara's gut grew as she felt the answer being pulled from her, "it's what I would have done if I were her. If I was Poison Ivy."
Nearly three weeks and nothing. No sign of Poison Ivy or Harley Quinn. Not a clue, not the slightest trail. Only the hum of the Delphi had kept Barbara company most of the day and night. The room lay awash in slashes of amber and violet and green slabs of light, no other illumination except her computer screens. Three weeks of staring at her computer. And today was no exception. It wasn't until the data on the screen blurred for the tenth time did the red head finally toss her glasses off and onto the desk. She pinched her nose to help get rid of the nagging pain between her eyes and sighed her vexation.
"No luck?" The redhead swung her head in time to catch Helena breezing in, her black duster flowing behind her.
"No." Barbara told herself to keep things short, succinct. She took a sip of tea and set it down carefully. This frustrated, she might break something if she wasn't mindful.
In the dimly lit space, Helena wove around the myriad pieces of the Delphi and furniture gracefully. She prowled amongst the many tall plants and foliage like a restless panther. "Did you get another new plant for the place?" Helena sounded irate to Barbara's ears.
"No, some of them are just growing new leaves." She smiled at that, the growth of her garden bringing a flush of pleasure, a welcome respite from her current unrest.
"I don't know why you had to bring any plants back from Quinn's place at all, let alone add to them." Helena seemed to be looking at everything except at Barbara.
Barbara had to bite her tongue to keep from stating that it wasn't only Quinn's place they had raided. Only after she had been deemed strong enough to venture out again by Alfred. It had been her place too, and her things had been there, including plants she had grown from tiny seeds and nurtured to life. Her plants that she couldn't bear to leave to simply die of thirst and neglect. Instead she said, "We had to go back to get my neural coupler. And make sure there was nothing else harmful. There might have been clues as to where Poison Ivy may have taken her."
Helena came around to lean back against the desk where Barbara sat, her hip nearly touching Barbara's arm. She crossed her feet at the ankles and crossed her arms over her chest, the picture of belligerence. "You've been running yourself ragged every day trying to find them. If you haven't found them by now, I don't think it's going to happen."
"I can't believe you, of all people, would suggest I stop looking for them," the red head snapped. Helena kept pushing her about the plants, about giving up, about lots of things. And Barbara couldn't figure out why or for what. She should be happy Barbara was trying to hunt down the women Helena hated.
Not responding, Helena instead took the cup of tea Barbara had by her keyboard and swigged it down as if it were a shot. It only aggravated Barbara more. "And you can stop going around drinking from every cup I do. I understand that I'm cured of the poisons and can touch people without being scared that I'll accidentally kill them." The damned brunette had persisted, ever since Barbara woke up that first day, in going around and finishing every drink Barbara had. In some cultures it would be considered an indirect kiss Barbara knew, but she deliberately didn't share that knowledge with Helena.
"I didn't realize sharing irritated you." The woman in question replied, smooth and cool, pushing off the desk and away to finger one of the leaves she had complained about moments before.
Sharing hadn't been something Harley had been good at, and that made Barbara bad at it now. Even when she knew it was Helena's insistent way of proving and reassuring Barbara. Reassuring her that the world and reality and identity she lived now were real. Were safe. Safe wasn't something Barbara was doing very well at either.
The older woman let out a breath and closed her eyes momentarily against the expectations surrounding her. "I'm sorry. I'm just trying to adjust."
Immediately, Helena relented as if all of her anger fell away. "No, it's me who should apologize. With everything you're going through you don't need me riding you about stuff." Helena let out a pent up breath of her own. She was close enough now that the breath danced over Barbara's shoulder in a warm rush of sensation.
Before, with Harley, Barbara would have just acted on the sensation and the urges it created within her. But now...she didn't dare look up into those remorseful eyes filled with thoughts of a person that didn't...that wasn't...
"Why did you get rid of Ivy's gardenias so quick Barbara?" Helena asked as gently and carefully as Barbara had set down the tea cup earlier. As if afraid something fragile would break.
Barbara tried to shake it, and Helena off. "You're asking about that now? I didn't want any reminders of that horrible moment. You remember the one don't you? You were dying. I was dying. Dinah drugged and us all vulnerable to the world?" She turned back to her screen and away from Helena.
"Yeah, but it could have held clues." The woman verbally tip toeing around the pain in Barbara's reply.
"It wouldn't have given us anything I didn't already know." Barbara said with an edge of finality.
"So why not throw it out instead of having Alfred give it to the nearest hospital? I mean, if you hated what happened so much, well, if it were me, I would have trashed it. With my usual violent flare."
Barbara felt herself being watched, had felt it many times over the past few weeks. "Indeed, I suppose if it had been you that's exactly what you would have done. Thrown them against the wall or something equally destructive.."
A hand touched her shoulder. Barbara stiffened waiting for the next verbal incision into her tenuous self-control. "Yeah, that sounds like me." The words came out so sad. Still Barbara refused to soften. "I just want to know why you couldn't bear for the flowers that woman sent you to be trashed . Why didn't you just toss them Barbara?"
The elevator doors opened to reveal Dinah striding in, happy and energetic. Her fresh blue jeans and red jacket were a bright splash of color compared to Helena and Barbara's own dark clothing. Helena in her regular clothes and Barbara in a black shirt and dark slacks. Dinah immediately came over and hugged Barbara first, which the older woman submitted to and returned though not as heartily. And then the blonde hugged Helena before moving towards the kitchen. "Hey guys! So how did your date with your dad go Barbara?"
"Oh, the same as usual. Doting father. My arguing that I'm fine and reassuring him that I am. Hugs and kisses. I promised him that I'd bring you two next time and we'd all go out for ice cream. He wants to treat you for all the help you were in saving me." The first week of recovery had seen her 'family' hovering over her all the time. Only through sheer force of will and verbal persistence did she get them to finally give her some space. Even then it came with the price of meeting her father every few days.
"Wow, more treats from Daddy G?" Dinah grinned excitedly while Barbara snickered at the youth's nickname for the redhead's father. "The hundred suppers he took us all to were plenty, but I'm definitely up for ice cream. How 'bout you Helena? You in? Your dad is too cool Barbara. You're lucky." Dinah made off for kitchen no doubt to find some food.
"Yep," Helena had continued to stare down at Barbara. "I wonder if lucky is the word. How much time did you spend with him today Babs?"
"Oh, the usual, about forty minutes over lunch. He needs to realize I'm okay and everything has returned to normal."
"Normal." One word, it was all Helena said and nothing more.
Barbara tried to ignore the impossible presence near her as she raised her head and called out to Dinah. "If you're hungry there's some left over supper in the fridge Dinah. I made some spinach fettuccini earlier. It's between the eggplant and the beets."
There, Barbara caught it, Dinah standing straight up and looking over at Helena. She couldn't read what they silently communicated with their glance, but she was sure she didn't like all the gazing that went on between the two whenever the three of them were in the room together.
Then, Dinah's posture relaxed and she turned her back to dig into the fridge. Her voice came out a perky tone that hit the ear false. "So you made supper again? Wow, you should give classes to Helena or something. She can't cook to save her life."
"Hey Dinah," Helena called to the blonde, and again the casual tone rang false to Barbara's ears. "You want to snag your food and give us grown ups a moment alone?" It wasn't really a question.
"Yep, sure, no problem." Dinah answered as if the request came as no surprise to the young woman. Corn flower blue eyes caught Barbara's with a look of worry and compassion that startled the older woman. "If you need anything though, just holler."
"Will do." Helena supplied, her eyes all for Barbara again.
Barbara tried for exasperation but refused to look up at the woman. "What Hel, you don't like my cooking?"
A mirthless laugh. "Your cooking is amazing. How much do you remember cooking for us before all this?"
She understood what Helena meant by 'this'. Abduction, memory loss, identity crisis. Her hand idly traced her keyboard. "When I was gone you had Alfred here to cook for you."
Helena moved closer to her, a fine line of heat at her back. "You cooked a lot for her?" There was only one person Helena referred to with such menace.
The older woman sighed, not sure the new question was better to answer than the one Helena had just let her avoid. "I couldn't help who I thought I was. I cooked for her. Now I cook for you. I'm here now, isn't that enough for you?" After all, there were so many things Helena had that Harley never would.
"Enough," Helena sounded as if she were tasting the word. "Was forty minutes enough with your dad?"
"Honestly Hel, what are you getting at? If you have something to say get to the point already. I've had enough cat and mouse games with Harley to last me a lifetime. I don't need it from you too." Barbara tried to roll back, get Helena to move away. Instead she found herself turned and facing Helena at very, very close range with the dark woman bent at the waist to better trap and seize eye contact with the red head.
"Plants, you never revealed a green thumb in your life Barbara. And forty minutes with your dad? In all the years I've known you, there wasn't a lunch you went to with him that didn't last less than two hours. And cooking?" Helena's grip on Barbara's chair tightened, her voice lowered with every accusation. "Barbara Gordon can barely boil water successfully. And yet now you've been cooking gourmet meals like you've been doing it all your life. You certainly claim to have been doing it for Harley. Not Quinn, not Quinnzel. You call her Harley. You talk about that place like it was yours. You keep the fridge stocked with fresh food when before I had to rummage just to find stale crackers."
Barbara gasped as she watched Helena who stood in too close proximity to her. Watched as Helena's eyes went from blue-violet to a flash of gold, a line of vertical feline slits for pupils, and a darker more violent color of violet-blue. "Just how long did you think I would let this go on while you pretended to be Barbara?"
The cornered redhead held in a breath, staring at augmented eyes. Three weeks. She thought she'd have more time before anyone found out the truth.
"Just how long did you think I would let this go on while you pretended to be Barbara?"
She dared to stare at Helena and the woman's augmented feline eyes. Meet them and hold them with her own. She squared her strong jaw at Helena, clenched her teeth and forced herself to sound far more in control than she felt.
"You attacked me in that school, begged me to remember you no matter the cost, told me I was Barbara and you almost died all so that you could have me back even if it meant I would never kiss you again, be with you. You reminded me of my life here, like this, being Oracle and Dinah's guardian, dutiful daughter to Jim, and kind friend to you. You dragged me back to this life. If I'm not Barbara to you, than who the Hell do you think I am Helena?"
The dark woman shook her head slowly, though her eyes didn't lessen in their intensity on Barbara, but she did drop to her knees in front of Barbara and take a hand in hers, rested the other on redhead's unfeeling knee. Her words as soft as the touch on Barbara's hand, yet her eyes burned into the redhead. "Just how much do you really remember about being Barbara?"
Jagged memories tormented her, others teased at the older woman's awareness. "I remember you being like this in front of me before. We were arguing about Shiva and my using the neural coupler. You were asking me not to."
"Yeah, begged you was more like it, but don't tell anyone 'kay? I've got a rep as a tough chick to keep." Helena tried to smile up at worried, clouded green eyes but the smile came out more like a wince.
"I don't remember as much as I need to I guess. Is that what you wanted to hear Hel?" She hoped so, that it would be enough and all Helena would ask of her.
Again, that smile that was more pain than anything else, pain and an old sorrow hinting at the edges of Helena's lips, in the shadows of her eyes. "When you're thinking, and you're all alone, who do you think of yourself as?"
"Barbara, of course. I know who I am Helena."
"Do you? I wonder, I mean, I thought I knew you too. But you can grow plants, cook, amongst other things..." The porcelain beauty of the face before Barbara hardened on those last words, ugly thoughts filling violet eyes.
"Who do you want to be Barbara?"
If she could have, she would have turned her back on Helena then. Stuck in her chair, Helena holding her hand, Barbara didn't know what to say. "What would you like me to say? I'm here, I'm with you. I can not cook anymore if you like. The plants stay. I'll spend more time with my dad if you want."
"Your words are so mild. So calm," Helena remarked scrutinizing, measuring every response and inflection in Barbara's expression, "but your green eyes are angry. What is it Barbara? Did I hit a nerve? You'd rather be robbing banks?"
Barbara actually snorted at that. "That became boring very quickly."
Helena cocked her head to the side, her eyes narrowed in speculation. "Maybe you'd like to be stealing more money from Batman's account?"
"I already spoke to your father-" the quick flash of anger on Helena's face was enough reason for Barbara to change her words "Bruce and I apologized to him and returned most of the money. At least all that hadn't already been spent. And I thanked him for the antidote he supplied Alfred with."
"I do owe daddy dearest for that. But stealing from him isn't what got your fire raging is it? What is it you keep hiding from? I watched you over the past three weeks and you do all your roles like a parody of how it used to be. It's like you're not here, not really. Like you buried yourself deep down."
"I'm Barbara." She told the dark woman, flat out.
"Then be Barbara." Helena stood up, the anger and frustration back in her restless, roving movement, prowling the jungle of plants and computer equipment that had become the newly revamped Delphi. The one to replace the damaged, invaded earlier counterpart. The one Quinn had invaded.
Barbara turned her chair to keep Helena in her vision, but she didn't approach the woman as Helena wove in and out of leaves and shadows and around metal parts. "I don't understand you."
The younger woman barked out a mirthless laugh, "I thought I understood you. I thought I knew you Barbara, but when I saw you, the way you were when you believed you were that sick bitch's lover..."
"It wasn't me." There was an ugly undercurrent to Helena's voice, one Barbara wanted to avoid. She thought if she acted her part everything would be fine, in its own way. In the way the people who loved her needed it to be.
"I thought that too. At first. But I saw you Barbara, I fought you. And all I can think about is how it felt, you so wild and in control at the same time, fighting for dominance, taking it. The way your body felt on top of mine, the way your lips-" Helena stopped dead, her side to Barbara, her profile hidden in shadow. "Tell me Barbara , just how many other things did you do with Quinn? You touched her, you kissed her?"
"There's no point in going over this." Barbara wheeled a couple of extra feet, lengthening the distance between her and Helena.
"No?" Again, that voice that sounded like laughter gone wrong, choked on, like it hurt Helena to even think what she was saying. "Pointless? I saw you Barbara. I saw what you were like when you were free from this place, free from your sense of obligation and trying to be the perfect mentor, the perfect daughter. I saw you wild and free. God Barbara, you were so beautiful. I never wanted you more. Never wanted to be wanted by you more. I found out then that I never really truly knew the real you at all. But she knew. Quinn found out the whole of you, the deeper part you never let me touch, and in return you let her touch you, with hands and mouth and skin. And you sit there and tell me it's pointless to ask what I'm asking? Fine, then I'll tell you something instead." Helena turned and faced Barbara, the shadows lingering on her as she didn't fully step away from them.
Want and rage poured off of Helena's sleek frame as she faced her. "That moment in the school when I told you it would be worth it to me if you never wanted me again as long as you got your memory back? As if it didn't matter to me. I lied Barbara. I wanted your memory back because I didn't want just part of you. I wanted the fire and the softness. You. Hard and sweet at the same time. Dangerous and safe. You make me crazy. And I don't want you to keep playing the good Barbara for me, doing what you think is expected of you, playing a role. I want you Barbara. All of you. The hidden you, and the you I've come to know. And you need to be that because right now you're neither Barbara Gordon, Oracle or Batgirl. Or even Ivy. Now what I need to know is what do you want? Who do you want to be? And what will that mean for me?"
For the thousandth time, Barbara mentally damned Harley Quinn to the lowest level of Hell. She thought she could hide but Helena was right, Quinn had found a way to dig up a part of Barbara the redhead had let herself forget about. And now with missing memories, that part of her burned under the constraints of being so good when she wanted to let out her recklessness, of being nurturing when she wanted to demand. Demand things from the woman in front of her. Take things she swore she never would, so many things she ached for. None of it changed one single, simple, awful truth.
She licked dry lips as she let her own anger rise from beneath its depth of self-constraint. "I remember enough of who I am. And I remember one very important thing Helena. I remember why you and I never were, never are, and never will be."
Still as a statue Helena stood at Barbara's words. Shadows hid her face but Barbara heard the sharp inhalation of breath. And when the dark woman spoke, her voice trembled. "What do you remember?" Afraid of the answer, afraid of not knowing at the same time.
In that moment of sympathy, of empathy, Barbara's own emotions for Helena swelled and stretched. And that was part of what fuelled her frustration, her fury at Quinn, and her own no longer so hidden pain.
"I remember more than you think." Much of which Barbara wished she could have left forgotten. The shooting that left her paralyzed. The stabbing that took the mother of her best friend, Helena. Those two tragic events that thrust them both together prematurely in such intimate surroundings, those of living together while trying to overcome grief that could not be assuaged, loss that could never truly be healed. Barbara remembered that. She remembered so much more than she wanted to say. And yet after being Ivy, it seemed her time of hiding had run out. It scared her who it would hurt more, Helena or herself.
"I remember Dad, I remember you, I remember people, places, things... it's just me that sometimes is missing. Interactions that I can't quite place yet. I cook now because I learned that I can and I like it. I like plants too. But ever since then I haven't felt comfortable being around Dad, or anyone for long. I feel sometimes like a fraud. Not because of what memories I'm still fighting to get back, but because so much of who I was still isn't..." She let out a breath, vexed at her own inarticulateness. "I've never lied to you Helena. It's only that I haven't told you the entire truth, haven't let anyone see all of me, the real me, in a very long time. Longer than is healthy. But I had my reasons. And those reasons, I think maybe they would still be there if Quinn hadn't shot my life all to Hell."
"Ivy isn't you but she is, isn't she?" Helena ventured, taking a couple of steps towards Barbara. The tentativeness of her movements, so odd from her usual confident swagger, hadn't gone unnoticed by the older woman.
Barbara offered her own pained smile, "You're not really asking, are you?"
Helena's dark head shook and she moved that much closer. "Not really, no. It didn't matter what name you thought you owned. It was you."
"It was me." Barbara held her breath, waiting for what she knew would come next. The part she had so desperately wanted to avoid by playing her role. She had failed though, and it twisted in her stomach, tasted like ashes on her tongue.
"You kissed me. You wanted me." Helena stepped closer still, close enough now that Barbara caught the scent of leather, the lighter scent of Helena's perfume, and the underlying spice of Helena's skin.
Green eyes met dark blue. "I kissed you. I want you." She chose the tense on purpose, laying her truth bare.
Frowning, it made Helena look younger, "Then why can we never be?"
There had been a moment before Ivy had kissed Barbara when Barbara had a sudden terrible fear of remembering why. The why that had kept her apart from the beautiful sensual woman she had held in her arms and was terrified of losing. She had been scared of that want going away. Instead, the reality of her perceptions shaped a truth that bore down on her far more than the loss of want, but the trebling of it. Without her memories, wanting Helena had been an elusive teasing of her senses and repressed memories. With many of them now intact and in the forefront, that want burned far deeper than Helena could ever guess, and had helped shape so much of the distance Barbara had kept from the woman all these years. Now though, Barbara had tasted those bow shaped lips, felt the stroke of that pierced tongue. She had the memory now of Helena's body undulating under hers with want, want for her, for Barbara. She remembered the dark violet blue cast of Helena's eyes staring at her with desire so thick she was able to taste it on the pale skin she so briefly had been able to touch with her lips. And that taste of Helena made Barbara's want ache so much more viciously than Barbara could ever have guessed.
How could she tell her dearest friend, the one she wanted to protect the most, just how deep her fever for the other woman has burned her?
"You wanted me as Ivy."
Helena shook her head. "I wanted you. I knew you were Barbara."
"But you've never shown the slightest desire for me Helena." That conviction of Helena being straight, the one aroused with Quinn's taunting, had stayed after Barbara's memories had begun to piece themselves together. "I've...wanted you for a very long time. Years. Ever since we were both adults. I've wanted you. And I wondered if we could be. But I watched you, and never once did you flirt with me, but you flirted with everyone else. Never once in all the years since I realized how I felt, did I ever see you with a woman. You've been with so many men Helena. Even if it was just a dinner, or dancing. The numbers are in the four digits. My memory's intact enough to remember that. But then one night you see me as the dangerous bad Barbara, using my sexuality and making you fight for my attention, and then you let me kiss you? And then you want me?" Frustration and pained confusion spiraled in her tone but Barbara could no longer help it, control was part of the problem to begin with. "I hid my feelings from you because I knew they changed nothing. I wasn't what you wanted, let alone who."
The strangest expression crossed Helena's face as she stared down shocked at the other woman. "You've wanted me for that long and never said a word."
Her tone was closer to an accusation than Barbara cared for. "I decided a long time ago that if I truly did love you I would do the right thing. Pushing one sided feelings onto the person you profess to care for is poor proof of love in my opinion." Her own anger sparked, years of frustration threatening to spill over. Did the woman have no idea how painful it was to be so close to her after Barbara had been allowed, however briefly, to take what she wanted most? How dare Helena stand there affronted. How dare Quinn have thrust her hidden self to the fore.
"You love me." Helena breathed.
"And you love me, as a friend." Barbara informed her, her tone cold. "You reacted to the fighting, and I did have you. You reacted to my advances, and I was forceful. You always were responsive to forceful people. You let me kiss you because you were overcome with emotions of finding me alive, adrenalin from the fight. But it was nothing more than that for you Helena. I know that. So if you would be kind enough to let me go back to trying to adjust to being everyone's good little girl, I would appreciate that you drop all of this."
She turned her self in her chair to leave down the ramp and away from everything she didn't want exposed. Raw, naked, she didn't need to tear her wounds wider.
Hands grabbed her chair from behind, stopping her retreat. Angry at the control of her mobility being taken from her, Barbara twisted her head to glare back at the younger woman but as soon as she saw Helena's face the words lay like dust on her suddenly dry mouth. Desire and violence lay there in Helena's face, her eyes, her very stance. And it was there all for Barbara.
"For a genius," the growl of Helena's words came from somewhere so deep, they sounded like they were dragged out of the feral woman, "you are the stupidest person I've ever met. And if you think you can sit there and tell me you've been in love with me for years and just leave? Then you really are an idiot because there's no way in hell that you're going anywhere until I set you straight, you romantically self-destructive lunatic."
As Helena leaned down, Barbara's heart leapt firmly into her throat. Her hands reached automatically for her fighting batons hidden under the chair. From the look on Helena's face, she might need them.
"Now," Helena leaned in further, close enough to kiss the alarmed redhead as she snarled, "I'm going to tell you what was, what is, and how it's going to be."
Before Barbara could get to her batons, Helena picked her up out of the chair and slammed Barbara down onto the work desk. Before Barbara could gasp, what few objects on it were pushed away in the swift act. Before Barbara could sit up, Helena was on her, the heat of her lithe body a sharp contrast to the hard cold desk the older woman found herself pressed on. Before Barbara could think, Helena fought with her, a struggle of straining bodies as Barbara tried to twist and push Helena off while the intent woman fought to grab Barbara's wrists and pin them on either side of the red head's shoulders, her body heavy upon Barbara's, both of them breathing raggedly. Before Barbara could form words, the drumming beat of Helena's heart battered against Barbara's own through their heaving chests, overwhelming her. Before Barbara could feel her own anger, she found her desire for the other woman bearing down on her as surely as the woman herself.
"Not this time Red," Helena panted against the other woman's struggles, pulling her head up enough to look down into Barbara's flushed face, "you've already had me on my back twice. This time I'm going to be on top, and you're going to listen."
Anger began to wash over the arousal. "Go ahead then. I'm listening."
"You can be as angry as you want but I have a right to be angry too."
Between ragged breaths and her continuous effort to test Helena's hold on her, Barbara scoffed, "Angry? What right do you have to be angry?"
Helena's eyes flashed feral. Barbara's heart skipped a beat. "Right? That twisted psycho listened to me pour my heart out over you. She knew the best way to hurt me was to take you, kill you. But no, that bitch upped herself one more by making you her lover when she knew I wanted you to be mine."
"No," the dark woman shook off what Barbara was about to say, "I don't want to hear you tell me how it was, how it is, and how it will be. You talk about the amount of guys I hooked up with. How many of them lasted more than one date? How many did I get down and dirty with Babs? If you were really interested and used that sharp mind of yours you'd know how low that number really is. And if you could get your head out of your own messed up issues you'd realize that it wasn't because I was Miss Straight Girl but because I couldn't have the one person, the woman, I wanted above anybody. Shit Barbara, I hate to say it, but if it weren't for that psycho bitch I would never have known you wanted me. If it weren't for fighting against you to save you, I would never have seen you wild, that inner self you've kept hidden all these years. And you ask me what right do I have to be angry?" A sharp sound of pained laughter escaped Helena, "You've held yourself back all this time. From what you want. From me. You cheated us both of what we could have been for all these years. And now you want to try to make it like it was?"
"I'm..." Barbara struggled for words and didn't realize that in doing so her body had stopped struggling with her, "I need to do what's best." Helena had wanted her? For years? And Quinn had known.
"No," Helena said again, her body softening into Barbara's, throwing frayed nerves into overload with sensation, "you've conditioned yourself to do what you think everyone needs. You're the perfect daughter for Jim, the perfect mentor for Dinah, you try to be my friend, my support and my partner. You worked so hard in trying to meet what you thought everyone else's expectations of you were, that you buried yourself in the process. But I don't want a pale version of you Barbara." Helena's dark head lowered and hot, silken lips found a pale cheek. "I want all of you. The wildness, the control, the heat, the humor, the passion in the way you fought me in the museum and the school, in the way you moved your body over mine. The way you kissed me..." Helena breathed heavier, her movements more languid.
"Helena." To her own ears, Barbara couldn't tell if she had just uttered a warning, or a plea.
The face raised, and Barbara was swallowed by the incredible dark blue of Helena's eyes, the want in her expression, the hunger open for Barbara to see. "You can be yourself. Completely yourself. You don't have to hold back anymore. I want you, all of you Barbara. I want to feel you under me, over me, around me. I want to feel your tongue, slow like honey over my body while I moan your name. I want you inside me physically the way you've been inside me all this time here." She dragged one of Barbara's hands to her chest, over her heart. "If I don't know you, then show me all of you. You say you want me, then take me. You say you love me, then prove it now and let go of what Quinn did, what didn't happen with us, and make us happen now."
As Helena's heart hit against Barbara's palm, strong and steady though fast, the image Barbara had created of herself over the years to cope with loss, with what she could no longer have, her legs, that freedom, Helena, and the freedom that would have given her heart, broke. That controlled facade was shattered far more than her memories had been. Shattered by Helena's words, by the feel of her skin, the scent of her body, the raw look of emotions so clear in her eyes, and the certainty of her words, the firmness of them that left no doubt that she meant them. Helena didn't have Barbara's doubts about what was best for whom or a need to be in control, or on top. Barbara wanted that sureness of being, the desire without doubt, to give in without fear. And she wanted Helena, had always wanted Helena.
Before she could think about what to do, what she should do, Barbara's body reacted, tangling hands in short dark hair and dragging Helena's face down to claim those full lips with her own. She kissed silken lips, hungrily feeding off of Helena, invading the other woman's mouth with tongue and biting pouting lips with sharp teeth.
They parted only to drag in oxygen. Barbara stared in awe at the woman above her and all Helena evoked within her. "It can't be this easy."
Violet-blue twinkled as Helena laughed breathlessly, "You call this easy?"
Losing her memories, her identity, her sense of self and regaining parts of herself she thought lost so long ago... no, Helena was right, nothing about this had been easy.
Unwanted memories intruded on Barbara, recent ones. The way she had kissed Quinn, had let Quinn touch her. She wanted those memories gone. She lifted Helena's top up to expose pale soft skin and ran her hands up and down the other woman's sides, revelling in the way Helena's eyes closed and opened slowly, mouth parted, and body trembling from Barbara's touch.
"Make love to me," she said up into that face of desire, those eyes that held all the love she ever dreamed of. "Drown out the things I want to forget. Give me memories to fill the empty spaces where I don't have any. Please Helena."
Helena's smile was as bright as any Barbara could recall seeing from the dark, brooding woman. "All you ever had to do was ask." With a kiss full of promises to fulfill, Helena lifted the red head in her arms and carried her to Barbara's bedroom.
The strength of the body carrying her, the anticipation of what lay ahead made the trip to her room a short one. With incredible gentleness, Helena lay her down on soft cotton sheets. With a wicked smile, the only warning she gave Helena, Barbara grabbed a fistful of the woman's dark shirt and pulled her down to ravage that succulent mouth and run her hands under clothes. A shuddering moan vibrated against her lips and she swallowed the sounds Helena continued to make as Barbara proved that even if she was physically on the bottom, she was the one driving.
Helena however, quickly proved to be an equal in the battle, taking Barbara's lead and adding her own improvisations. And Barbara relished every moment of their dance. It was Helena who tore off both their clothes, a sudden yank, the ripping sound loud in Barbara's ears and the cool touch of air on a suddenly bare chest was done so quickly that she had only finished gasping in surprise before she was faced with a very hungry looking dishevelled and equally naked Helena. Beauty was the only coherent word Barbara's mind could form. The beauty of the lithe body pale, slim and strong before her. The beauty of Helena's movements as she crawled, slow now, up the bed over Barbara's body, every action containing a fluid grace. The beauty of Helena's smile, so filled with joy and desire and, more than anything, love. And it was the beauty of that love, the intensity of it, that sent Barbara's heart racing, made her already burning body catch fire in her own desire to be with Helena. A beauty in every touch whether soft or wantonly hard that spoke of adoration, of longing too long restrained. Barbara had enough of restraint.
She gave in to every impulse. Each bit of skin she wanted to kiss, to taste, she did. Every desire to stroke with her hand the pale body above her, she surrendered to. Each ache to take those lips again with her own she followed. And it amazed her, the intensity of each sensation. When Helena's hot, wet mouth took one of Barbara's breasts into her mouth, wrapped lips around an aching peak, Barbara threw her head back into a pillow and cried out. So much, it was so much more than anyone before, than anything else she'd ever felt before. It eclipsed Barbara's younger experiences. Her fling at gymnastics camp with Lesley, her closet affair with her roommate in college. And even Quinn. With every pull of Helena's hot, wet mouth, the friction of tongue and teeth and a warm metal piercing, with each caress of mouth and hands on Barbara's body, every kiss and catching of eyes filled with desire and love, Helena burned away anything else in Barbara except for her, for Helena and what was happening now.
With a frustrated groan, Barbara put her hands under Helena's arms and heaved the woman up so that she could take a small breast in her mouth, tease its point with lightly raking teeth and then sucking hard as if she could take Helena inside her. Helena's cry of pleasure was the sweetest sound and fuelled Barbara's hunger for more. With a twist of their bodies, she rolled Helena onto the bed, herself partially on top of Helena. Again she couldn't stop the sly wicked smile on her face.
It took her two tries to get the words past her raspy throat, her voice far huskier than she'd ever known it to be, "You said you wanted to feel my tongue on your body, slow like honey. Isn't that right?"
She watched Helena, entranced at the change in eyes gone midnight, the charge in the air. "Yes," Helena answered in a voice like deep smoke and dark velvet new to Barbara's ears. "That's what I want."
The hunger for this woman before Barbara burned molten at that voice, that look, the answering shudder in Helena's body. She used her upper body strength to hold herself over Helena, watching, stretching the anticipation between them tight, tighter. It was only when Helena's mouth parted to plead that Barbara lowered her head and let herself take that long first taste of Helena's throat. She felt the tendons tense under her tongue as she slowly ran it up towards Helena's jaw, near a rosy ear where Barbara couldn't resist a sharp bite. Not enough to really hurt, just enough to blend in that feathery grey area between pleasure and pain. Helena gasped. Barbara wanted - needed - more. She desired more of that voice, the sounds of Helena when she was aroused. More than anything, Barbara wanted to see Helena's face when she came. Barbara wanted that, had wanted to hear that, see it, be the reason for it, for too long.
With a groan she moved her mouth lower, teasing the side of a breast, tracing it with her tongue in slow, heavy circles that grew closer and closer to its peak. With every tightening swirl that grew nearer to her current goal, she heard Helena's breath catch, waiting, wanting. At the very last moment, when she was about to touch that aching point, Barbara pulled away and moved to torture Helena's other breast just as mercilessly. Her victim's hands wound themselves into fists in the sheets beneath them. A whining sound of frustration escaped the woman writhing beneath her and delighted Barbara's senses.
By the time her mouth had found Helena's navel, the dark woman did plead, but Barbara wasn't done mapping out the contours of the shape and changing tastes of the body under her yet.
Barbara nearly cried as she reached lower, the first hint of curls tickling her lips and the scent of musky arousal, Helena's desire, filling Barbara's senses. Her own desire thick on the back of her tongue as she inhaled the scent of Helena's arousal, almost tasting it through smell alone. She nearly cried because with her eidetic memory she would always be able to remember this. The silky feel of Helena's skin along hers, the way Helena's body writhed under her, because of her. The way Helena moaned, growled and panted. And the way she looked, pale skin flushed in shades of aching desire, her eyes glued to Barbara, dark with want. She wanted to taste Helena, take her fully. And Barbara didn't have to hold herself back anymore.
She moved away from Helena's body and dragged herself up to lay down on her back beside Helena. "Get up on top of me." She herself couldn't tell if it was a command or a plea.
Trembling, Helena did, straddling Barbara's waist. When their eyes met, Barbara shook her head slowly from side to side and placed her hands on either side of the other woman's hips, pulling them towards her face. Blue-violet eyes widened. "Move up." Barbara urged.
With understanding, a shudder ripped through Helena's slender frame and a moan issued past dry lips. "God...Barbara..."
This time, Barbara did beg. "Hurry."
Eager green eyes watched as Helena, who was never clumsy, awkwardly changed her position to come rest her knees on either side of Barbara's head, her calves alongside Barbara's arms, poised just above Barbara's parted lips, her gaze a mixture of awe and disbelief.
Green held onto blue, and their violet turned midnight gaze. "Please." Barbara felt no shame in saying it. Not when she was finally going to fulfill a dream she had buried so long ago.
Helena lowered herself and Barbara craned her head up, not able to wait. And at that first long lick into slick wet folds, Helena convulsed, but it was Barbara who moaned loudly. The sound against tender flesh and her mouth delving into heated depths caused Helena to cry out and grab fistfuls of crimson hair. Barbara lay there, her mouth couldn't stop moving, rolling each change in taste and texture along her tongue, overwhelmed with it. Overcome with emotion at the sense of fragility, intensity of emotions that filled her.
"Oh God Barbara," she thrilled at Helena's voice, the sound of her pleasure like this, "God I want - I don't think I can hold off if you keep doing that."
That undid the red head, undid the last of her resolve and patience to take this woman completely like they both wanted. She moved her mouth up more to the top center so that she could open eyes and hold onto the dark depths of Helena's as Barbara used her hand to move and slide two fingers inside the warm space her tongue had slid into and explored only moments before. Heat suffused Barbara's being as hot walls spasmed and clamped down on her fingers deep in their warm heaven. As Helena's body quivered above her and eyes barely stayed open with each raking convulsion of pleasure, her quaking body leaned back, bowing and hands released red hair to move up to those wonderfully lush lips. And Barbara watched entranced, as Helena slid one, then two fingers into her mouth, drawing them out slowly and with a hungry look, moved her hand behind her. And then Barbara cried out as dark eyes watched her at the first sensation of fingers sliding high up along her own aching center.
"You're close too, aren't you Barbara? Just from watching me, from tasting me, you're close. Make me come Barbara," Helena's voice hoarse with her pleasure, "watch me cum from your mouth and fingers and follow with me. Will you? If I touch you with your mouth still on me, your fingers inside me, seeing me come all for you. Will you come for me too Barbara?"
God yes, Barbara wanted to scream, but her moan was muffled by sensitized flesh and her own hungers. She could only nod briefly as the short circling touch resumed on the very nerve of her desire and she pushed fingers in deeper against the tight confines around them. She pushed her tongue hard and fast against Helena's own swollen place. The heat became liquid in her mouth, in her veins as she watched Helena crest over that shining edge and Barbara followed, her nerves singing, her body crying out. And her body felt too small, too mortal to contain the emotions sweeping through her at Helena's surrender. And her own. And through each spasm, each new peak, there was Helena watching her as she watched, listening to her as she listened, to each provocative sound, every labored breath, each change in expression on the other's face. Each cherishing the other and this moment. Their first.
It was only as they came back down to earth, slowly descending from such great heights, that Barbara realized a simple truth. Not all poison came in vials or murderous villains. Some came in the form of the things a person buried inside, truths lying unsaid, love held and hidden. If they didn't kill your body, they poisoned your soul. And some poisons needed to be burned away.
Helena did so with love. A love Barbara had never allowed herself to see waiting there. And here now, Helena had moved, limp to lay languid and struggling to catch her breath, her dark hair blending with skewed strands of red where it lay on Barbara's shoulder. Barbara held the most precious thing of all in her arms. Helena was her reason, and her heart.
"I love you." The words tasted clean and pure.
Silk friction along skin as Helena raised herself enough to see Barbara's face. And if Barbara still had any more doubts, the smile there turned them to dust.
Lips found hers in a soft kiss, and that kiss claimed her soul. All of it. Helena's next words set Barbara's long buried heart free and soaring. "I've been in love with you for half of my life and I will for the rest of it. If you'll let me."
Gazing up to midnight blue eyes that held her sky, Barbara pulled Helena down for what would be their beginning.