It’s an hour before I notice that she’s been in the shower way too long. As roommates go, we’re like two ships passing in the night. It was Giles who leaned on us to live together after she broke up with Kennedy and came back from South America. I think he wanted the two of us most likely to go all big and bad (again) in one spot. If push comes to shove, they can always firebomb the place.
Setting my popcorn aside, I haul my butt out of the chair and knock on the bathroom door. “Red…you ok?”
She’s got the water turned up so high that she probably can’t hear me, and there’s steam leaking out from under the crack in the door.
“It’s Faith. You alive in there?”
Still no answer, so I try the doorknob. Locked, of course, but I just give it a good twist, and it comes off in my hand. There are upsides to being the Slayer, even if the super’s going to give me hell for it later. I open the door and get bitch-smacked by a wall of steam. Definitely been in the shower too long.
I don’t know why I’m feeling this pressing need check on her. If I were Blondie, I might say my ‘spider sense is tingling’ or something. But I’m not gay like that.
The steam’s cooler closer to the tub. It feels clammy against my skin as I shove the shower curtain aside. Ok, something’s definitely up—whatever else you might say about the apartment, it’s got a phenomenal water heater. No way she could’ve used all the hot water up.
I know what this is, even before I look down into the tub—this is a punishment shower.
First, water so hot it feels like you’re gonna take your skin off. You want it to take your skin off, because then—just then—you might feel clean. But it doesn’t make any difference. You scrub and you scrub, but the sin’s still there.
So then, you move on to the icy. It yanks your mind back from where the steam was taking it—all woozy and dreamy, like you might slip away from everything in the bottom of the tub. That’s where Red is, curled up in a little ball of pale skin and orange-y hair in the tub. One of her knees is laying over the drain, and the water’s starting to back up.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, because there’s got to be something. I’d been out most of the day, taking care of Slayer business.
She just makes a little “mmph”ing noise that I can hardly hear over the water.
“Damn it, Red.” Reaching into the tub, I grab her under the arms—very aware that she’s totally naked—and try and haul her to her feet. Neither of us is very big, in the grand scheme of things, but there’s that handy Slayer strength. I get her upright and let go.
Big mistake. She flops forward with a cry of despair, her arms going out to stop her from falling on the tap. Her bony elbows hit the tile of the shower wall with thud that she’s gonna feel in the morning. She ends up on her knees, the faucet pressing into her belly, hands buried in her own hair.
The water’s running down her pale back, and part of my brain goes “stupid witch” while another goes “fuck, she’s hot”. Next thing I know, I’m in the tub with her. Not the brightest thing, I realize, but I just want to show her I know where she is, what it’s like to sit under that icy spray and think the world would be a better place without me. I kneel behind her, wrap my arms around her shoulders, and pull her away from the wall and against me. She’s not crying—you don’t cry in punishment showers. You get angry, you smash tiles with your fists so that your knuckles split and bleed. You don’t cry.
Because crying is weak, and whatever else you are, you’re not weak. A weak girl would still be back in Boston, living in the projects, with at least one little brat calling you ‘Ma’.
I wonder when this shower stopped being about Red and started being about me. Willow clings to me, plastering herself as tightly against me as my soaked t-shirt. I stroke her wet, tangled hair gently as I reach past her and shut the water off. Seems kind of silly to leave it on, now that I’m in the tub too, in my blue jeans. Not that they could get any wetter.
“Shh,” I murmured, keeping my hands moving over her hair, her arms, trying to soothe her. She turns and crawls into my lap like a little kid, burying her face in my shoulder. There’s the stink of dark magic on her, making my skin crawl even as my brain takes in the lavender scent of her soap and goes “yum”. “Shh…”
Willow lifts her head, finally looking me in the eye. “Don’t…don’t tell me it’ll all be okay,” she growls, a feral voice that doesn’t match the forlorn look on her face at all.
“I wasn’t going to.”
That shocks her, and she tries to draw away, but I lock my hands at the small of her back. Her hazel eyes wander over me, and I wonder what she sees. Faith the dark Slayer? The murderer? The skank who took her first crush’s V-card? Or just an exhausted woman without brains enough to take off her pants before getting in the bathtub?
“Why do you say that?” she whispers as she reaches a hand up to cup the side of my face.
Impulsively, I turn and press a kiss into her palm. Don’t know why—it just seems like the thing to do. This time, I can’t tell who’s more shocked, me or her. “I don’t know—because it’s true,” I say quickly. Oh, God, why am I acting shy? I haven’t acted shy since I was in the second grade, and that ended when Tommy Harper pushed me into the mud and ruined my green sundress.
I’ve never given much thought to kissing women. It’s no different from kissing a man, I discover as she closes the distance between us, catching my mouth with hers and pressing hard. My lips are chapped, and I can feel them rasp across hers until her tongue glides over them. My body seems to have a mind of its own as I maneuver that naughty tongue into my mouth and suck gently on it. One hand slides around from her back and up to fondle a breast. It’s small and fits comfortably in my hand as I gently knead the soft flesh, gliding my thumb over her nipple, already hard from the rapidly cooling air. It’s nothing I’ve ever done before, but it feels natural.
Her own hands are busy peeling my t-shirt away from skin. We have to separate our mouths to get it over my head. The fabric makes a wet smack as it hits the tile of the bathroom floor. “You sure about this?” Willow breathes into my neck as she traces a line of kisses down to the hollow of my throat. A little line of electricity shoots straight south as her mouth moves, and a low, guttural noise rumbles out of me.
I may not have been with a woman before, but I know how to fuck.
Wrapping an arm around her waist, I flip us, so I’m straddling her slender waist, looming above her in the cold confines of the tub. There’s barely enough room for my knees on either side of her hips, but, hey, I figure it’ll keep me from sliding on the wet porcelain as I lower my mouth to the nipple I was playing with earlier and bite it just hard enough to get a gasp from her. Grinning, I release it and let my tongue make slow circles around her areola. She giggles—a breathy little laugh that’s half a gasp of pleasure—making me raise my head to look at her. “You ticklish?”
Red dances her fingers across my abdomen. “Are you?”
I arch an eyebrow. “Not there.”
Those clever little fingers continue their dance down my belly until they’re playing with the button on my jeans. My skin under her hands is so warm, I should be steaming. I press my mouth against hers, and our tongues do a tango back and forth between our mouths. Lavender is invading my sinuses, filling my head with Willow. She gets the fly of my jeans open and yanks at the fabric to pull them down.
The fabric feels superglued to me, courtesy of the shower. I can’t help but growl in frustration as I stand back up in the tub and tug on the sodden denim. I’m wiggling and squirming, trying to get them off. Halfway through, it dawns on me that this is could be a nice little striptease if I took my time. I roll my hips like I’m on the dance floor and peel the jeans off my ass, turning the fabric inside out as I go. Red leans back against the back of the tub and watches me, her eyes hooded as I free one foot from the puddle of denim. One knee is drawn up near her chest, giving me an excellent view of the strawberry blond curls of her sex, and I swallow at the sight of it. Hesitation’s not my strong suit, and I don’t back down, I remind myself as I make a grand show of leaning forward to toss the jeans from the tub. I keep my eyes on her—on those red-gold curls—and remind myself I’m not a chicken. I wonder if she smells like lavender down there too…and the thought sends another rush of electricity straight to my groin.
My underwear’s clammy against my skin, and I move to take it off too—just to get it off of me—but she sits up and swats my hands away. “Let me,” she offers, sliding her index fingers up through the leg holes of the panties and crooking them over the waistband. She gets to her knees and puts her mouth to the sharp jut of my hipbone and laps her tongue over it even as she strips the underwear from me. It falls to my ankles with a small, wet smack.
Her tongue wanders down to the apex of my thighs. My throat tightens in anticipation as she reaches my cunt, and my hands start to scrabble along the smooth, slippery tile of the shower walls. Showerhead, some part of my brain that isn’t rapidly turning into lava suggests, and I reach behind me, latching onto the bit of metal right as her fingers part my folds and her little tongue slides in.
“Guh.” Not the most articulate thing but my brain’s all soupy heat now. I bite my teeth into my lower lip and brace myself. Willow knows what she’s doing—just how to tease my clit and push me this close to the breaking point before changing tactics and finding some new way to make my nerves sing and my brain go moremoremore. Maybe I should have done this with someone with matching parts a long time ago.
The muscles in my thighs are quivering with the effort of keeping me upright as Red does a damn good job of reducing my knees to Jell-O. Finally, just when it feels like I’m about to explode, she pushes me over the edge and into orgasm. The showerhead pulls free from the wall, as I buck and writhe.
As the last wave of pleasure passes through me, I slide limped-legged down the wall. “That…that was fucking amazing,” I whisper. Boneless—that’s how I feel. It feels like a sun is burning beneath my skin even as the air in the bathroom cools against it. I drop the busted showerhead over the side of the tub, and it clinks against the tile. Guess that’s what they call ‘collateral damage’.
Willow is blushing. As I watch, the flush spreads from her cheeks across her nose, to her ears and down to her chest. Good old Red. If people could die of embarrassment, she’d have done it long before now, so I’m not too worried. Funny, that until now I’ve never thought of her as much more than B’s little witchy minion or a convenient roommate. “So,” I drawl, keeping my voice low and purring, “You want to continue this in my room?”