Leaving Delphi

by 'rith



Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom/Warnings: Barbara Gordon/Roy Harper (Oracle/Arsenal). M/F sex, not particularly explicit. A stand-alone spin-off of Aya and TBoarder's "Truth or Dare" (note at end).
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.
Note: Yes, Babs is for Dick, world without end, amen. But AUs are fun.



Barbara Gordon never answered the door without checking the video monitor first. Not anymore.

Roy Harper stood outside in his typically casual way, leaning against the doorjamb. She buzzed the door open, and he came in. "Hey, Barbara." He bent to kiss her cheek. "Ready to go? We've got reservations."

Just a few weeks ago they'd had fun at the Titans' party--especially during the game of "Truth or Dare" that was more like a couple rounds of "Spin the Bottle." She'd shared a terrific kiss with Roy when her turn came up. As they headed back to the others, he'd said, "I was wondering if you would like to go out some time, for real."

Her surprise hadn't stopped her from taking him up on it, and he'd smiled with that so-irresistible charm. "I'll call you."

And true to his word, he had.

She'd prepared for the date with more than a little apprehension. She knew what this was really about, it'd been perfectly clear back at the party, and though she was looking forward to the evening she couldn't help the anxiety from creeping up. It'd gotten so bad she'd even had to make a quick call to her therapist. The wise woman had done her best: "Anxiety is natural, as long as you don't let it get in the way of doing what you want to do. It'll only be a failure if you don't *try.*"

So she tried, and they'd had a nice time. Dinner, a slow walk--or in Barbara's case, roll--around the city, and now they were back at her apartment.

It'd been a long time since she'd done this, but she still remembered the ritual of it. "Come up for coffee?"

"Sure." His easy smile had everything of friendship and nothing of anticipation about it.

In her kitchen she pulled out the cups and spoons, poured in the coffee, and watched him. He was poking around in that polite way, like he had nothing on his mind except some conversation and caffeine. And that was nice ...except....

She tried to think of a way to broach the subject, then gave up. The direct approach worked better for her these days, anyway. "Roy, is something--did I do something...."

"Huh?" He glanced up at her, confused.

"Last time, when we--at the party--I thought..." God, she couldn't even say it.

"Well...." Give him credit for not pretending to ignorance. "I didn't ...I didn't want to presume, or assume, or whatever--I had a great time, and I *like* spending time with you, just as friends."

The all-too-familiar heavy weight of despair began to settle on her like a cloak. "But you don't want to be more."

Slow he might be, but when he finally got a clue, he didn't waste any time. "Barbara--hey, no. I didn't mean that, at all. Of course I--" he hesitated, reaching for the right words. "You know me, right? But I wasn't sure if you really meant what--what I thought you did, at the party, and I didn't want to push."

It was just politeness, then, and not the other. Thank God. "What, you? Roy ‘anything in a skirt' Harper? When did *you* ever have trouble with ...this kind of thing?"

"When it's someone I care about. When it's a friendship I don't want to mess up with assumptions."

She had to smile at that. They *weren't* that close, not really, but his concern was genuine anyway. So much for his image. "Well, do you need an engraved invitation?"

"No." He moved over, lowered his lips to brush over hers lightly, then drew back. "I have to ask, though, what about you and Dick?"

She was proud of how steady her voice remained. "He's not here. We are." She reached up a hand and brought his head down for another brief kiss. Even that light touch sent a pulse through her blood.

When she let go, he had on a wicked grin. "Hang on then, honey, and I'll show you my arsenal."

She giggled. "Roy, that's a terrible pun."

"Yeah. But it's almost a trademark, so I gotta use it." He scooped her up and carried her into the bedroom, pausing only to move aside some of the equipment that hung over the bed, all the mechanisms that made it possible for her to maneuver into and out of the wheelchair. But only Harper would joke about it. "Ooh, kinky. I dunno if I'm up to hanging from the ceiling tonight, Barbara."

His irreverence startled a laugh from her. "Cute. Very cute."

"I know." His eyes were so very green. He laid her down, drawing off her shoes, and kicked off his own before sprawling next to her.

She ran a hand through his hair, enjoying the feel of it tickling her palm, the color of it against her skin. Almost like her own but a little coarser, a little brighter.

He leaned in and kissed her again, deeply this time, and she let him push her back against the pillows, the heaviness of him against her upper body a feeling she'd almost forgotten, the simple presence of a body next to hers a welcome weight.

His hand trailed down her face, over her neck, to the open collar at her throat. "May I?"

"Please."

Slowly he moved down, one button at a time, barely touching what lay beneath. He drew back her sweater, glanced down and then back up with a truly evil smirk. "Front-loading, how convenient!"

"Roy!" Barbara slapped at him playfully.

"If I didn't know better, Ms. Gordon, I'd think you accepted this date with the *express* intention of luring me into your bed. Why, I am shocked!"

She started laughing. "That'd work better if it didn't come from *you,* with your legendary reputation...."

"What, me?" His innocent look lasted all of three seconds before it dissolved into a smile of his own. "I don't know about ‘legendary' but I can show you what I know, anyway...."

"Show me." Her voice had gone low, sexy, and she saw his eyes light up in response.

He didn't answer in words but instead with a flurry of kisses, mouth skimming against her neck, finding the most sensitive points. When she shivered he took the cue to linger, awakening long-neglected nerve endings with the sure touch of his tongue.

Barbara could *feel* her body waking, remembering all the old responses, wanting more. She ran her hands over his back and tugged at his shirt; with a muffled laugh he sat up, pulled it off, and tossed it to the floor. The feel of him, just the warm human smell of him here in her bed--it was almost overwhelming, after so long.

He held perfectly still as her hands drifted over him, letting her explore at her own pace. No need for haste, not at all. She pulled herself up by the broad span of his shoulders and leaned against him to catch his scent. His arms went around her, supporting her, and she sighed in contentment and rested her head against his chest.

"Everything okay?"

"Uh-huh." Impishly she licked at his nipple and felt him jump. She did it again and Roy gasped, then with a quick twist of his fingers undid her bra and cupped her breast in his palm. Barbara looked up into his face, smiling. "They didn't call you ‘Speedy' for nothing, did they?"

"Hey, now." His eyes were laughing. "I may be quick on the draw but I know how to take it slow when it counts. I'm not in any hurry--are you?"

"Oh, definitely not." Barbara caressed his chest lazily, enjoying the feel of him. He hummed deep in his throat, a low vibration like the purr of a big cat.

With one arm still around her he began to touch her again, the slight roughness of his hands--callused from the string of his bow--delicious against her skin. Her sweater and bra hit the floor next to her bed, his head dipped down--

His mouth, God, so good, hand strong on her back...but where was the other?

She looked down past his head to see his left hand drawing circular patterns on her thigh...that she couldn't feel. Hell. "Roy ...?"

"Mmmm?"

"I can't..." He looked up at her, puzzled. "I can't feel that. Your hand."

Dawning comprehension. "Oh." And then, grinning--"Well, how about *this?*" He tickled at her navel and she giggled reflexively.

But what was best of all was that he didn't get flustered or try to apologize, but just took it in stride. The virtue of experience, she thought, then forgot about thinking when his mouth found her breasts again.

Sometime later he murmured against her skin. "Tell me what you can feel." His hand swept over her torso, fell to her waist. "Here?"

"Uh-huh."

His hand dipped lower. "Here?"

She frowned. "No."

"Hey." He reached up to smooth the lines from her forehead. "Last thing I want to do is hurt you, or make you uncomfortable."

She looked into his face, all concern and shadowed by his mop of red hair, and thought: I could fall in love with you. Just a little bit, just for tonight. "Come back up here and kiss me."

"Yes, ma'am!" He drew up, gathering her in his arms, and kissed her. His mouth was warm, gentle and knowing, drawing out her responses, stealing her breath.

She *remembered* this, she knew the mechanics of it, all the things that *hadn't* changed. Hands, mouth, and simply being able to judge what he wanted--

She ran her hand over his chest, then lower. He groaned.

Barbara saw his emerald eyes go dark, and knew: Yes. This will be right.

It was.


{morning}

Barbara woke early--long habit, not easily forgotten--and looked at the man sleeping next to her. In the morning's light Roy's face was unguarded, reminding her of the gentleness he'd shown last night. She smiled at the memory.

Before they'd fallen asleep he'd brought her chair in from the kitchen. He didn't wake as she moved from the bed; he slept like a child, innocent and oblivious. Which was pretty ironic, considering the night before.

Even such a simple thing as using the bathroom took far longer than it should now, so it was just as well that Roy was still sleeping. Once finished she pointed her wheelchair toward the kitchen, intending to put the coffee on, and then turned around and headed back to the bedroom. There was a man in her bed, a very attractive and attentive one, and she wasn't about to do anything to hurry him out of it.

She watched him sleep, musing. She'd never thought of herself as casual about sex, and most of her previous experiences involved someone who she'd cared about as more than a friend. That wasn't true here, but last night had felt right nonetheless.

Since her injury she'd been skittish about the subject. She'd frankly resigned herself to being alone, the untouchable Oracle, until some well-chosen words from her therapist and some online research had made her reconsider. And then the party, and a moment with Roy full of possibilities, and....

And here they were, and she felt *good.*

He started to stir, eyes opening to find hers, and he smiled with genuine pleasure on seeing her. "G'morning. Been up long?"

"Not too long."

He patted the empty spot next to him. "C'mon back."

She lifted herself into the bed and settled into his arms. She'd missed *this,* too; not just sex, but the closeness of another body before and after.

"Feel good?"

She laughed up at him. "Fishing for compliments, Harper?"

Roy grinned. "Nah. I don't *need* you to tell me. I knew it anyway."

"Arrogant. You're just lucky I'm too comfortable to swat you."

"You never know. I might like it." He kissed her, stopping her retort. Arrogant, yeah, but good *lord* the mouth on that man! Might almost be worth putting up with--

She shook a mental finger at herself. It's just your hormones talking, Babs. You'd kill him in a day or less. Don't even think about it.

They lay in cozy silence for awhile until he cleared his throat and said, almost hesitantly, "So..."

"What?"

"So I'm kinda curious. What's going on with you and Dick?"

She frowned. "I don't know what you're..."

"Sure you do. You love him. He loves you. What's the problem, Barbara?"

"Oh, come *on,* Roy!" Suddenly all the anger of her injury was right there again. She yanked herself out of his embrace and waved a hand toward her useless lower half. "Politically correct bullshit aside, you really think he'd be happy with a *crip--*"

He put a hand over her mouth. "Stop it. He *loves* you, it's blindingly obvious to all of us. He doesn't care about that."

"No? You don't think?" She gave a short bitter laugh. "He's a young, healthy, horny man. How long would he put up with a girlfriend who can't--"

Roy squeezed her hand. "Honey, I was with you, remember? Just last night? I got nothing to complain about. There's more to sex than that."

"Right. Sure. But do you want to give it up forever, Roy? No. And I wouldn't ask it of him. So there we are."

He shook his head slowly. "I think you're underestimating him. I don't know what else to say, except that Robbie really loves you, and if you love him, you can make it work." He was silent for a moment. "I wish you'd try."

There was something wistful in his tone. "Why?"

"Because he's one of my oldest and best friends, and I want to see him happy. And maybe I haven't known you as long, but I like to think we're friends, and I want to see you happy too. I'm not sayin' it'll be easy, but jeez, Barbara, if someone loved *me* like that...I'd do everything I could to give it a shot."

Nothing but honesty in his voice, pulled over his own longing. "I--You really think...."

"I really do."

Yes, dammit, he was right. Most of her objections were ways of covering up other issues, deeper issues, because she *knew* that Dick really didn't care about her paralysis. What it was about--

She wasn't prepared to deal with, not right now. And the easiest way to not-deal-with-it was to turn the tables on this conversation. Barbara glanced over to see Roy watching her face, obviously concerned that he'd stepped over the line.

"So what about you and Donna, anyway?"

He blushed. He actually *blushed!* "We're, um, taking it slow?"

"Really. *You?*"

"Yeah, well. She's got a lot of things she's trying to sort out." Even the Oracle couldn't keep that story straight, something about Donna being an avatar of Wonder Woman and having lived a thousand different lives. "She's trying to figure out who she is, and she needs a little space to do it."

"But you're still interested, right?"

"Yeah. Definitely. She's..." He flushed again. "Wow, that's crass, huh? Talkin' about how great another woman is while I'm here with you."

Barbara smiled. "I asked first. And she is special. I hope it works out." She eyed him speculatively. "In the meantime...."

##Deet.##

Oh, no, not *now* ...

##Deet. Deet.##

Barbara let out a sigh of frustration and peeled herself off of Roy. "I've got to get that. Batguys calling."

Roy nodded ruefully. "Here, let me help." He picked her up and carried her over to her computer array. She switched it on, image her-side-only, and laughed to see Dick Grayson on the other end staring into his darkened screen. She pulled on a long shirt, draped a blanket over her legs, and glanced around to see Roy pulling on his pants. Oh, this ought to be fun....

She clicked on the connection. "Hey, Former Boy Wonder."

"Hi, Babs." Whatever he was going to say next was lost when he spotted Roy over her shoulder. She saw him take it in: her barely dressed, Roy only half, and that look of surprise was just *priceless.*

"Roy?! What are you doing--" he blurted, and Barbara almost broke down laughing right there.

Roy waved casually toward his Titans teammate. "We had a date."

This really was a unique opportunity; Dick was rarely so *completely* flustered. "Uh..."

Barbara smiled at him brightly. "It was *lovely.*"

"Um, right, I'll, uh, call back later...."

"Don't be silly. You've got me on the line, Grayson, what are you gonna do with me?" Behind her, Roy choked and tried unsuccessfully to stifle the sound.

"‘What am I'--Babs, I think maybe I really should hang up now...."

She shrugged. "Your dime, Bat-boy. You know where to find me." Dropping her voice to a seductive purr, she added, "And you can call me...anytime."

Dick blushed bright red and shut off the connection. Roy burst out laughing. "Oh, you are *evil!*"

She grinned. "Well, I can't make it too easy for him."

"Wow. Anyone who can keep Robbie off-balance like that--I'm impressed, Barbara."

"Long practice." She hesitated for a second. "Roy, I wanted to say ...thank you."

"Huh? For what?"

"For this." She waved vaguely toward the bedroom and blushed, just a little. "I haven't--since this happened, I haven't been with a man, I wasn't sure--"

"Oh, my pleasure. *Believe* me." The words were flip, but his expression and the touch of his hand to her cheek weren't at all.

"But hey, listen. I promised Chanda I'd get back to Lian by noon. You wanna come with? She'd love to see you. And the rest of the guys, too."

"...I shouldn't."

He nodded toward her monitors. "You can take a break from all this. Everyone takes a day off, once in a while. Even superheroes." He considered. "Except the Batman. And if you ask me, that man's cowl is on too tight."

She laughed, and suddenly the decision seemed easy. "All right. But you know ...we don't have to leave right away."

"Read my mind, lady." And he set about proving it.

The Oracle had *definitely* gone offline for the day.



NOTES

Many thanks to Aya and TBoarder, for the lovely segment of "Truth or Dare" that sparked this one. That story can be accessed from http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Nebula/6003/ (story contains explicit m/f and f/f sex).

Acknowledgment also goes to Jody Revenson for her fic "Nightwing and Oracle," which can be found at Luba's archive: http://lubakmetyk.interspeed.net/others/jody/oandn.htm (story contains explicit m/f sex). Though I wrote this one independent of her story, some of the feel is the same by virtue of the extremely similar theme. No infringement of Jody's excellent work is intended.

Miscellaneous and heartfelt thanks to Falstaff, Samy, PollyMel, Dannell, KayJay, and anyone else I missed for general encouragement and spot-commentary; and to Carmen for excellent beta and also for the comment, "This isn't an AU, it's the prequel before the main event." We'll see. :)




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