Title: When Darkness Comes
Author: euryleia
Rating: PG- preslash
Pairing: Barbara/Dinah
Feedback: Appreciated, but not necessary. Euryleia@yahoo.com

Disclaimers: I don't own these characters, they are being used without permission of the numerous entities that lay claim to them, and I receive no compensation from the authorship of this fiction beyond the enjoyment of the craft. There is no sex in this fiction, but if there was, it would be between two consenting persons of the same gender.

Authors notes: As a certain friend of mine would say, there's no 'good stuff' in this ficlette (yes, Dallas, I'm referring to you <g>). That means there is no sex, no groping, no kissing... there's not even any thinking about kissing, really. In fact, if you really wanted to, you might even consider this'subtext'. As such, I really don't think it will trigger any squicks, but look at the pairing and use your own discretion. Why then do I consider this slash? Because the thoughts in this ficlette are not platonic, and if they read that way then I didn't write them very well. There are currently no plans for any follow ups to this; it was intended to be just a quick peek inside of Barbara's head. A bit of character without plot.

When Darkness Comes

Sometimes I think that darkness is a conductor, embracing sound and carrying it far beyond the distance traveled in daylight. How else can I explain the padding footsteps that thunder in my ears, waking me? The rapid breathing that charts her location with a precision that borders on sight? I can even hear the whisper of skin against skin as she rubs her arms. How did I ever manage to sleep through her nocturnal wanderings?

I listen to her restless prowling, my fingers knotting, my jaw clenching with the effort of my silence. I tell myself to relax, that she'll go back to sleep soon, but I sound unconvincing even to my own ears. I know better. Finally I can't hold still or silent any longer. I push myself up and look towards the door.

"Dinah?" My voice is hoarse from sleep, but I know the darkness will carry it to her. Her footsteps stop, and there is a moment of complete silence. Then, a whisper of sound, and I can see her just beyond my open doorway, one hand reaching up to tuck her hair nervously behind her ear.

"Sorry." Her voice is small, barely audible.

"Can't sleep?" She hesitates and then shakes her head, a quick jerky movement. I wonder if she'll come in to me tonight, or if I'll have to go to her. I want to comfort her, to soothe her and tell her that her dreams can't hurt her, but I've learned this game. I know better than to mention them in the darkness. I pat the mattress beside me lightly. "Would you like to lay down here for a little while?" She stands in the doorway of my bedroom poised for flight, and I can see the struggle in her stillness. Suddenly, as if she has just this one chance, she steps inside and I let out a breath I hadn't noticed I was holding. Tonight I won't have to coax her away from the monsters that haunt her.

"For just a little while," she promises, climbing underneath the covers. She turns to her side, facing away from me. Stiff. Contained. As if afraid to take up too much space. Her breathing is steady, but sharp, with the hard edges that come from having to think about inhaling and exhaling. I lower myself to my side and brush her hair away from the side of her face, the damp tendrils snaking around my fingers. I can feel the tension, the terror, resonating in her body. Slowly, rhythmically, I slip my fingers through her hair, untangling the strands as gently as I know how. With each stroke I can feel her nightmare lose it's hold, and soon she is resting comfortably, her hair pooling smoothly on the pillow beside her.

"Do you want to talk about it?" She's wide awake again, her muscles wound so tight they're almost at the point of tearing, and my disgust is thick and bitter on my tongue. I'd curse myself, but what's the point of cursing someone who's already damned? "Shhhh," I croon, "It's ok." Lightly, I touch her, the heat from her skin seeping through the oversized shirt she wears. I can feel her heart beating in staccato bursts against my palm. "Shhhh." My hand rubs gentle circles over her back, soothing away the ghosts I'd re-awoken. Slowly, hesitantly, the strain slips away, fading under my touch. The hard edges of her breathing smooth out, and she sleeps. Still, my hand continues it's pattern, stroking across a warmth that's almost liquid until I lift my hand away and rest my curled fingers underneath my chin. I watch her then, her breathing sweet and even, her body relaxed and at rest, and now I'm the one who breathes with hard edges, the one whose eyes burn with the effort to keep open.

There are almost two feet of space between us. Approximately twenty inches. Fifty point eight centimeters. Five hundred and eight millimeters. Room for another person. Yet I know that when I wake, we'll be tossed together like two rag dolls, a tangle of limbs and linen, our skin flushed with sleep, the heat from her body wrapped around me like a blanket. I know that in the early morning when I first stir to awareness, my thoughts will be, not of my duty or my precious Delphi or even of my paralysis, but of how good I feel. How good it feels to have her held so close that I can taste her on the air between us, feel her breathing, hear her heartbeat. And I know that I'll lay in bed with my eyes closed, fighting to hold on to that state where, half awake and half asleep, all that matters is the sensation of being close to someone, being held by someone. I try to tell myself that tomorrow will be different, that these nights are just for Dinah, that what I feel is innocent. But I know better, and in the darkness I close my eyes.