It wasn’t an easy situation. Well, the actual situation was easy enough, even if it meant living in New Jersey. There weren’t basements in New York, at least not basements they could afford. Then as now, a basement had seemed essential; it was a matter of principle, and doing things only if they were going to be done right. And, even if their tiny little house and its tiny little yard took a not entirely tiny bite out of their combined paychecks, it was worth it. They were close enough to a train station, and had gotten used to the early mornings. Even if they hadn’t, it was the kind of hassle they were motivated enough to handle.
They needed new counters in the kitchen and Quinn certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if the contractor fairies came and retiled the bathroom while they slept, but the basement was the only room in their tiny house to have received significant improvements. It really was a lovely space. Larger than it looked from the outside, and now, meticulously clean. They’d painted it a bright, clean white and pressure washed the concrete floors. They were sealed now, in a way that made them look perpetually slick. The overhead lights were industrial and bright. Quinn liked to have everything outlined in stark relief; she appreciated the austerity of it. It was spare, reserved, and functional. Not an indulgence… a necessity.
Some of the furnishings they had built. Others they had ordered. The swing, for example, came highly recommended, and with free shipping couldn’t be refused. They’d picked up the sawhorse at Home Depot, still smelling freshly of pine. They’d had to let half of it hang out of the back of their trunk for the drive home, a tiny red handkerchief tied to its right leg for reasons Quinn deemed both practical and ironic. The thick, spongy, slip resistant flooring, with its jig-saw pieces slotting together to make a perfect square, came from a local athletics supply store. The long, narrow table was an antique. Civil War era, the salesman had said, and built for the battlefield. The legs folded up underneath it for what would have been easy transport had it not weighed 50 pounds; Rachel claimed to like the drama of it, with its nicks, gouges, and presumably sordid history. Only now, instead of maps, it played host to a meticulously organized collection of instruments.
All together, it’s all they could afford right now.
That, and the St. Andrews cross. That was the actual situation, and getting into it required nothing more than her ability to wait patiently while Rachel closed the shackles around her wrists. She tested them. It was, of course, fruitless. The shackles kept her wrists pinned high and wide, with barely an inch of slack. Her patience extended further as Rachel positioned her feet just so and locked the spreader bar into place. She was in the stilettos for this reason alone, to feel the cold steel against her ankles. Her boots were better, a much more striking visual with their black, patent leather shine, but she’d sacrificed fashion for function. Rachel would just simply have to understand.
She tested everything again. It was unnecessary, of course. Rachel was well trained and extremely thorough, and if Quinn wanted to be immobilized, Rachel would apply her full concentration to the task at hand. Everything, as specified, was deliciously impregnable. “You’ve done a sufficiently adequate job,” she allowed, smiling only at Rachel’s pleased blush.
They’d established the rules long ago, the poses now second nature. Rachel was standing at attention, naked and barefoot, with her hair tumbling down free and her arms behind her, clasped hand to elbow. Her feet were spread shoulder width and her shoulders pulled back; she looked attentive and almost proud, her eyes flicking up to alight ever so briefly on the thick bands encircling Quinn’s wrists. Quinn allowed it, indulged it even, keeping careful track of the way Rachel licked unconsciously at her lower lip.
Rachel was wearing her favorite collar – thick black leather with an O-ring at the front. Quinn’s smile stretched into one of anticipation. “You’ve earned your reward.”
Watching Rachel’s joy was almost as good as what Quinn knew was next to come. She braced herself for it, let the pleasure of anticipation roll through her mind. It was thick and satisfying, and she willed Rachel to draw it out – to draw it to its height, incipient bliss on the verge of cresting.
Somewhere along the way, she’d closed her eyes. There was little warning, only the slightest rustle of bare soles against sealed concrete, before Rachel brought a hand down on one of Quinn’s breasts. The sound of the slap was loud and sharp, but the sensation was too new to have much of a bite. She needed more; her eyes fluttered open. She let Rachel see the approval in them, the encouragement. The second slap landed on the untouched side, and the symmetry of it settled something restless inside of Quinn.
“Again,” she said, hands clenching into fists. She pulled hard against the shackles, and felt the bite of them digging into her wrists. Felt the thrill of being trapped in the way her heart began to race.
Rachel used both hands this time; Quinn said again and again and again until Rachel’s palms stung and Quinn’s skin was a vibrant pink bordering on red.
“Kiss me,” Quinn growled, digging her nails into her palms.
Rachel, in her bare feet, had to stretch on tip toe to reach her. Quinn didn’t help, didn’t lower her head or bend her knees. With her arms again crossed behind her, burning palms pressed to her own skin so that she could feel the heat of them, Rachel balanced precariously. She wasn’t allowed to touch, not yet, not in the way she usually would, with her hands on Quinn’s shoulders and their bodies pressed tightly together; with the careful distance she kept between them, the heels, and Quinn’s lanky frame, the best she could do was the curve of Quinn’s jaw.
Quinn sighed with disappointment. She made a show of tilting her chin down, and held herself back long enough for Rachel to appreciate the force of her scowl.
In apology, Rachel’s teeth dug hard into Quinn’s lower lip, almost but not quite hard enough to draw blood. Quinn didn’t like blood. It was messy. It lacked precision and was unpredictable. She preferred, instead, the simple, orderly exactness of bruises, bites, welts, and scratches. They were self-contained and neat. They left traces on her, but not around her.
They were, in the grand scheme of things, considerate to others.
“Down,” she growled, reminded of how she liked to feel those teeth elsewhere.
It wasn’t in her nature to be descriptive. If she had to explain, then something was wrong. When she gave an order, she expected it to be obeyed. And, when it came to obeying orders, there was only one person she could trust to do it correctly.
Rachel’s teeth tightened their already tight hold on her nipple and pulled.
By the time Rachel settled on her knees between Quinn’s legs and applied her tongue to Quinn’s clit, she’d left behind a map of bites and bruises. She was allowed to use her hands now, because Quinn liked the feel of short nails scoring tracks down the slip of her spine. It was Rachel’s reward for a job well done, both the taste of Quinn on her tongue and Quinn’s satisfied hiss of pain as Rachel spread her fingers wide and dug bruises into her hips. Second only, perhaps, to the sound Quinn made when she came, a choked and desperate, “Rachel.”
No, third, she decided, when Quinn looked down at her with a ruthless smile. “Take me down,” she said, voice honey and venom, “and fetch my cock.”
It hadn’t always been so easy. It hadn’t taken one meaningful look for Quinn to know or for Rachel to know, linking them together in a perfect moment where words weren’t needed. It hadn’t just happened, either, because it wasn’t as if either one of them was self-aware enough to know those sorts of things about themselves. Quinn was who she was: shamed daughter in a household predicated upon perfect appearances; full of the spitefulness of God’s vengeance and not the beauty of His forgiveness; incapable of limiting the damage caused by her hatred only to herself; failed, lost, and lonely. She was loved in spite of who she was until she wasn’t loved any more, and even when she began to try, in earnest, to fix herself, she realized she wasn’t convinced she wanted to change.
And Rachel, because she felt guilty when really she instead should have felt triumphant and justified, tried to help.
They had nonetheless worked something out.
Quinn had been feeling particularly bitter and full of self-loathing, fueled by beer she’d sworn she was never going to drink, when it started. She’d been sulking on a couch in the corner, watching everyone else look so carefree and happy – three more weeks until graduation and getting the hell out of Lima. And she didn’t know why Rachel was still trying because there wasn’t any reason to try anymore, no appearances to maintain, but she was.
She still doesn’t remember exactly how it happened. She did remember that Rachel had brought a cup of punch with her, that the one cup had turned into two, and that at some point between when Rachel had sat down beside her and 3:00 the next morning, Rachel had ended up flat on her back in an upstairs bedroom with Quinn’s hand between her legs. It was one more bad decision to add to her list, even more incomprehensible given what had happened with whom. She’d thought she wasn’t the type of girl who would give it up to someone like Puck, but that had turned out to be wrong. So, the fact that she’d been wrong when she thought she wasn’t the type of girl who would fuck another girl, much less Rachel Berry, was less surprising only because she was learning not to be surprised with herself.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she’d snarled to a still quite dazed Rachel before stumbling out of the room.
She was still surprised that Rachel had followed that particular order.
And then school was out and freedom was just around the corner. Quinn had long since planned her escape from Lima. She wasn’t going to get trapped there, another loser with a sordid history of teenaged scandal that had devolved into the mediocrity of an immobile life. Small towns only treated you well if you were above reproach, surrounded by family and friends and content to live trapped in the rhythms of that kind of life. High school football games, PTA, and church socials with the same people she’d seen every day of her life didn’t appeal. Quinn didn’t know if she could grow, but she wanted to try.
Because they were going to be swallowed up by the bigger world, Quinn didn’t worry so much about those last few weeks. She let herself get drunk and sloppy, let herself kiss Berry. Let herself fuck Berry one more time, crammed into the backseat of a car with a seatbelt buckle digging into her spine and Rachel’s nails digging into her thighs.
When she thought back on it, she remembered Rachel’s shy smile and the deep ache in the small of her back. She’d spun around in circles in front of the mirror, trying to catch a glimpse of it, the bluish-black V-shaped bruise the unfortunately placed buckle had left behind. It had seemed fitting at the time – something painful but destined to fade, a twin to the invisible imprint Lima had tried, and failed, to brand into her.
Her second year in New York, she ran into Rachel again. Tisch, Rachel babbled at her, because having a good voice wasn’t enough. She needed to be industry savvy, and she wasn’t going to get that at Julliard.
“It wasn’t a good fit anyway,” Rachel said, looking almost apologetic. “I was in love with the idea of it, but if I’m going to be successful, I really need to be more practical.”
Quinn, pursuing Urban Design and Architecture Studies, wondered if it was some kind of curse, smears of Lima she just couldn’t wash away.
“I suppose it is a productive use of your sketching skills,” was all Rachel had said, as if they were the kind of friends who caught up over lattes. “Now instead of defacing public property, you can repurpose it.”
The only reason she could give for agreeing to meet Rachel for lunch that weekend was one Quinn didn’t want to recognize. She was lonely. New York was amazing – a huge, sprawling metropolis of opportunity and wonder – but she was small here. She was inconsequential; there were so many people to force into liking her that she’d apparently chosen no one instead, and it was tiring, trying to weed through who really wanted to get to know her and who just wanted to get in her pants. And it wasn’t that she minded being desired; she just didn’t want to have to go through the pantomime of friends if the primary objective was –with benefits. And –with benefits, she’d discovered, had a hard time avoiding wanting more.
So she met up with Rachel at a little café just off campus, watched Rachel eat a salad with no dressing, and listened as Rachel filled her in on Lima gossip. She pretended disinterest, fought down irrational guilt over the lavender honey vinaigrette she was thoroughly enjoying, and hoped she was better than the ones who didn’t get out. The familial successes and failures piled up, these classmates now married and who would have guessed? Them with a baby on the way. This scandalous affair with a married man, that one returned from college, flunked out and a failure. Her excelling, him doing better than expected.
“Don’t you ever go back?” Rachel asked, frowning at her over a glass of water. “Don’t you talk to your parents?”
And some things that never change.
“Not really,” Quinn said nonchalantly, and motioned for the check.
They had coffee and lunch, coffee and lunch, and Quinn settled into something of a routine. Rachel talked and she didn’t, and it felt good. Rachel didn’t seem to expect anything more than that she show up and pay attention, at least a majority of the time, and Quinn decided that’s what her other attempts at getting to know people had lacked. They had expected things of her.
They were friends, of a sort. Benefits came later.
Rachel’s dads kept her flush with wine. It was, they said, an essential component for entertaining guests, which Rachel did. She had dinner parties, study groups, and wrap parties, and Quinn found herself enmeshed in a social scene once again. She didn’t like Rachel’s friends – they were music geeks, art geeks, theatre geeks, hipster geeks, and otherwise unclassifiable geeks. They drank too much wine and sang showtunes; drank too much wine and gave soliloquies; drank too much wine and thought they could approach the quiet, sullen blonde glaring at them from the corner. But always, she was the last one out, the one there at the end of the evening drying plates and tying off the garbage.
“We used to have sex,” Rachel said, eyes glassy and words adorably slurred. There was nothing special about the night, nothing Quinn could see that had led up to the remembrance. They were slumped on the couch, too exhausted to stay awake but too wired to sleep. “Do you remember?”
Quinn considered saying no, just to see what would happen. Instead she gave a vague shrug, her answer a non-answer.
It didn’t seem to faze Rachel. “If you ever wanted to do that again,” she said, managing to look both earnest and innocently seductive, “we could.”
The proposition was unexpected but not entirely unwelcome. If nothing else, it would be a good way to excuse away all the time she’d spent being Rachel’s friend. “I wouldn’t want anything serious,” Quinn warned, accompanying it with her most forbidding frown.
Rachel nodded solemnly. “I’m not proposing a marriage equivalent, Quinn. It’s just been a long time since I had a wholly fulfilling sexual relationship. My memory of the events might not be perfect, but I seem to remember enjoying the times we were together.”
And Quinn thought it was ridiculous, because it wasn’t as if they’d had a glorious affair. Then again, she’d met the kind of people Rachel drew into her pool of potential partners – the aforementioned geeks of every stripe, with a few of the vaguely disturbing creepers Rachel had always seemed to attract. It was pretty clear that it wasn’t difficult to shine by comparison.
It was a sign of how much she’d changed that it didn’t matter how poor the comparison, she was just happy to shine.
“Yeah, sure,” Quinn said with a shrug. Time had lost its relative meaning; she didn’t realize her words came after a pause of several extended beats. “But if things are weird, we won’t do it again.”
Things weren’t weird. They were perfectly nice. Rachel was only a tad more touchy, prone to forgetting herself and resting a hand on Quinn’s thigh for longer than was strictly necessary. Then, too, there was her tendency to pull Quinn away from the party du jour – and really, Quinn didn’t mind, because there was only so many times she could hear a dramatic recitation of that speech about what happened to cousin Sebastian at the beach – and desperately divest her of whatever she’d used to clothe the bottom half of her body. She was usually drunk enough to snort at the thought that would always come to mind, that this was inevitably going to end up giving her some horrible fetish where getting head and cannibalism or, possibly, theater geeks were forever linked together, and the amusement would carry her through Rachel pushing her up against the wall and then sinking to her knees. And because she was distracted, with the low buzz of the party seeping through the wall and her mind spinning with the kind of thoughts that usually only came to her in the moment before she realized she was awake, where otherwise illogical linkages seemed, instead, imminently logical, she would momentarily forget herself. She would wind her hands into Rachel’s hair and mutter things in a low, guttural voice that made Rachel moan against her. They were ugly things, dirty things – insinuations and names, and if she happened to remember any of it when fully sober, she found herself unable to separate shame from arousal.
In the moment, there was nothing to separate. There was only arousal. After she came back to herself, shivering her way through the receding edges of orgasm, she’d pull Rachel up to her and kiss her. She liked the taste of herself, liked the taste of Rachel’s gasp. She liked to spin Rachel around, press her against the still warm wall, pull her hips back, spread her legs, and fuck her. With Rachel turned away from her, she didn’t have to worry about policing herself. She could sneer, could be as possessive and aloof as she wanted – all things, she’d learned, that people preferred not to see in her, even if they were true. She could revel in the way Rachel whimpered, in the way she pushed her hips back, begging for more. And, when Rachel took in a deep breath – Quinn knew what was coming next, and as much as she wanted the crowd in the other room to hear Rachel’s scream and know what they were doing just one wall away, she also wanted to keep it for herself alone – she could easily find something else to occupy her mouth. The location changed – fingers, wrist, and on the one occasion she nearly screamed herself, the vulnerable skin of her inner arm – but the sharp dig of Rachel’s teeth stayed the same. Her mind would go momentarily blank, and a wildness would unfurl inside of her. She’d find herself back in the place she’d just left, desperate to push Rachel back down onto her knees. Instead, she’d wrap her arms around Rachel’s waist and bury her face in the crook of Rachel’s neck until they were both breathing normally once again.
The next day, Rachel’s gaze would alight on the bruises she’d made. She’d murmur an apology that didn’t find purchase in her eyes and Quinn would shrug it off silently. Later, Quinn would press her thumb to the spot, feel the soreness spread, and wonder what was wrong with her.
Quinn didn’t much care for metaphors, similes, and, most especially, hyperbole. They were indulgences, wasted words. They were the filler people used instead of simply saying the truth of a thing. Her shame, then, was rampant.
It was the setting, probably. Candles, soft lighting, and Rachel standing in the doorway to their bedroom in sheer white flyaway babydoll with matching white panties. The outfit was clearly designed with two purposes in mind, both of which Quinn could appreciate. There was the way the fabric contrasted with and highlighted the tan of Rachel’s skin beautifully, so that in the soft light of the room she seemed to almost glow. That wasn’t the only contrast, though, or even the one behind the devious glint in Rachel’s eyes – a glint in direct contrast to the way she was smiling innocently. She had her hands clasped nervously behind her, and Quinn had never really thought she would fall prey to the obvious, to be sitting there with her heart beating wildly as her girlfriend played the shyly seductive virgin, but she was. Her hands were clasped into fists and her mouth was dry; she was torn between wanting to stalk over to Rachel and tear free that teasing scrap of white and waiting for Rachel to come to her.
She didn’t move. Rachel was in charge of anniversary preparation, and Quinn never interfered. It wasn’t that she was an apathetic participant, suffering along through the whole affair until she could make her escape. In fact, she actually enjoyed the ceremony of it, the nostalgia and the sentiment, and the recognition that they’d built something together. She’d tried, at least initially, to make herself a part of it. She’d secured reservations and cobbled together picnics – out of both a genuine desire and a sense of obligation – and it wasn’t that she’d failed, exactly. Then again, maybe she had. It shouldn’t have taken three years to figure out anniversaries – really, celebrations of all kinds – provided Rachel with the perfect opportunity to indulge in her love of detail. She didn’t want Quinn to be involved. She wanted Quinn to be delighted with the results of her meticulous planning.
Quinn waited as the tension between them stretched until it was almost unbearable. She waited until the nervousness Rachel was playacting at edged itself into being. Her smile turned truly hesitant and her eyes lost their hint of mischief; they filled with pleading, and became, somehow, even more beautiful.
She held her silence a beat longer, then gave a barely visible nod.
Rachel’s relief was palpable. She smiled, took a step forward. Her hands moved from behind her back, and a grin snaked across Quinn’s face.
A harness dangled from one, a set of nipple clamps from the other.
When Rachel reached the edge of the bed, Quinn slid up to her knees. She crawled over to the edge and leaned forward, brushed her cheek against Rachel’s, pressed her lips to the shell of Rachel’s ear, and let out a soft sigh.
“It looks like you have big plans,” Quinn murmured. She dipped down to draw the lobe of Rachel’s ear between her teeth, tongue flicking out to tease at Rachel’s skin. It’d been one of the first things she’d learned, the way attention to this place could drive Rachel to distraction. She would struggle to contain herself, shivering in place when she hadn’t been given leave to move, whimpering in the back of her throat when she hadn’t been given leave to speak.
Quinn’s lips moved to Rachel’s neck. Rachel’s head dropped back in acquiescence, baring her neck trustingly, and Quinn smiled against her skin – if it came to it, she liked acquiescence more than trust, but appreciated them both. She used her teeth gently, just a tease, and applied enough suction to leave the faintest hint of pink. There was no need for her to leave marks, no need to leave behind possessive little reminders laying claim to her territory. She didn’t hold Rachel to the same standard. Rachel could leave behind all of the marks she wished; they were, Quinn freely allowed, functional. But the reverse? If people didn’t know Rachel was hers, they just weren’t looking.
She pulled away and shifted up onto her knees, forcing Rachel to tilt her head back to meet Quinn’s eyes. Her own soon flitted away; there was something to being adored that made Quinn feel utterly unworthy.
Later, when she’d pressed Rachel to the bed and knelt above her, the two expressions flashed in an endless loop behind her closed lids. They melded together, pleading and adoration, as she braced her hand against the headboard and slowly drew herself back and forth over Rachel’s outstretched tongue. It had taken Rachel months to master the art of stillness. She was eager to please but it was an anathema to her, letting things develop in time. Quinn had been afraid that, in this, Rachel was forever hopelessly doomed to failure, and she’d been forced to make good on her promises, to pull away and leave the both of them unsatisfied. Now, Quinn wasn’t sure what it said about her, the utter joy she took in watching Rachel, so tense beneath her, struggling against her nature. It made her want to praise Rachel, to stroke her hair and press soft kisses against the corner of her mouth – things Rachel didn’t want, things it wasn’t in her to give. Instead, she gave Rachel the gift of soft gasps and needy moans, and forced herself to be patient. She made them both wait, forced herself to keep her movements slow and deliberate and delighted in the way Rachel trembled.
“You can touch,” she said finally, voice rough.
It was quick, then, with Rachel’s nails digging into her ass and her tongue rubbing hard and fast.
Her orgasm left her indolent, lax. She smiled down as Rachel tugged leather straps up her legs, pulled them tight, and tucked the ends out of the way. She was efficient in this, well practiced and confident, and seeing her there on her knees with Quinn’s newly attached cock jutting out at her obscenely made it inevitable that Quinn’s hand would find its way into Rachel’s hair. Rachel’s lips were red, wet, and just a hint swollen and it was beautiful, watching the cock slide between them. Her expression had shifted back to adoring and it was almost too much, the way Rachel was looking up at her. Wrapped in white and unflinchingly earnest, and Quinn let herself slide her hand around to the back of Rachel’s head and pump her hips just hard enough to make those dark eyes widen. She wanted Rachel on her back again, wanted to kneel over her face. Wanted to fuck her that way, just because she could.
“Get up,” Quinn said hoarsely. Her hands were trembling. She flexed them into fists. She waited until she felt like she had control again and then brought one up to cup Rachel’s cheek. It nearly provoked a moan, the way Rachel turned into her so trustingly, and before she could think better of it, she was leaving a soft kiss at the corner of Rachel’s mouth.
Rachel took in a quick breath in surprise but before she could say anything, Quinn pressed three fingers to her lips.
It didn’t take much to send the babydoll fluttering to the floor. A quick tug on the tie between Rachel’s breasts and it was gone. She settled onto the edge of the bed and pulled Rachel into her, enjoying the novelty of having to look up. She brought her fingers up to Rachel’s lips again and explored gently, feeling their heat, their slickness.
“You have permission to touch,” she said softly and slipped her forefinger into Rachel’s mouth, eyes fluttering closed blissfully as Rachel bit down.
They had time. They had all night, could do whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted, and what Quinn wanted at that moment was to pull Rachel up onto her lap and kiss her. She wanted Rachel squirming against her, desperate for more. And she enjoyed this sometimes, when she could close her eyes and indulge in slow, lazy kisses; when she could run her hand through Rachel’s hair, pushing it back only to have it escape her hold and flutter down to brush against her cheeks and tickle at her shoulders; when she could slide her fingers over Rachel’s skin without meaning or purpose. And Rachel, in turn would dig her nails into Quinn’s skin, leaving long, sweeping lines of red, or wrap her fingers into the hair at the nape of Quinn’s neck and pull hard.
It was later, when her lips were throbbing pleasantly from the bite of Rachel’s teeth, and Rachel was rubbing against her with frantic, desperate movements, that Quinn had to push her away. She forced herself to take deep breaths instead of short, quick ones; gave a small tilt of the head that had Rachel scrambling out of her lap; and stood herself. For a moment, she didn’t move. Her knees were disturbingly unsteady.
She drew a condom from the drawer beside their bed, waited until she had Rachel’s full attention, and tore open the packet carefully. Rachel’s eyes darkened. Her breath quickened as Quinn slowly rolled the condom into place, as she stroked the shaft of her cock. Quinn moved her hand slowly; it centered her, grounded her, connected her to this thing that was not hers but that she would make hers. Her hand disappeared into the drawer again. She pulled free a small bottle of lube, flicked open the cap, and tilted it to the verge of spilling.
“Am I going to need this?” she asked.
Rachel blushed softly, and shook her head no.
Quinn gave her a pleased smile, flipped the lid closed again, and put the bottle away. She moved deliberately, settling in at the head of the bed amidst pillows and ruffled covers, and waited. A second later, she was rewarded. Rachel had always had a sense of the theatric, and Quinn judged her next actions as utterly film-worthy, as she smirked, crossed the distance between them on hands and knees in a distinctly feline slink, and resettled herself in Quinn’s lap.
Quinn’s voice was hoarse as she slid her hand between Rachel’s legs, fingers slipping in the wetness she found there.
Quinn knew it was on the verge of cruelty. She knew it was time to reward Rachel for her patience and good behavior, and not, instead, to tell her that relief was not imminently forthcoming. But it wasn’t time, not yet, not when Rachel was slippery and hot against her fingers. Not when she was making those noises in the back of her throat, guttural and needy, trying desperately to stay quiet. To help, Quinn slipped two fingers into Rachel’s mouth, bared her teeth in a grin when Rachel bit down, and increased the speed with which she was circling Rachel’s clit. She could force it, could push past Rachel’s innate need to obey her and make her come, no matter how hard Rachel tried to hold back. She could use more pressure, could provide stimulation without relenting, could watch as the inevitable happened, but it wasn’t the time for that either.
When Rachel’s expression turned from resolute to panicked, she leaned forward and said, very carefully, “Go ahead.”
She wrapped her arm around Rachel as the other girl collapsed against her, drawing in breath in deep, shuddering gulps. With her palm pressed flat to Rachel’s back, Quinn could feel the way she shivered, the movements of her body unpredictable, uncoordinated jerks and twitches that followed the movement of her fingers without fail. Rachel’s lips were beside her ear, her breathing harsh and uneven, and each exhalation cut short reverberated through Quinn.
“Rachel.” She was barely aware of the sound of her own voice. Her hand had slipped from between Rachel’s legs, was fumbling between her own. Her free hand slid down to the curve of Rachel’s ass, urging her into motion. It took a moment for Rachel to catch on, and then her hand was around the cock as well, fumbling alongside Quinn’s, and she was shifting up on her knees. Quinn could tell the moment she pushed inside, could hear the catch of Rachel’s breath and feel the resistance. She was so tight, still so tight after her orgasm, and Quinn let her ease herself down slowly until she was settled, finally, with Quinn deep inside her.
Without looking away from Rachel’s face, Quinn searched the bedsheets around them. Her hand flailed, feeling, finally, the cold bite of metal against her skin; she held the clamps up between them. She watched Rachel’s eyes as the other girl took them from her, as she trapped first one nipple and then the next. The expression on Rachel’s face – a pure, radiant joy in what she was doing – never failed to send an excited flutter though Quinn. And the pain, clear, sharp and stinging, cleared all excess thought from her mind. She existed between the soft comfort of Rachel’s body against hers and the unforgiving bite of the clamps, paying for her pleasure with the kind of currency she loved best.
As Rachel began to move, Quinn slid one hand up between them, catching the chain between the clamps where it hung, brushing lightly against her belly. She offered it to Rachel, her eyes a sharp command, and with a smile, Rachel leaned forward and took it between her teeth. Quinn’s hands found her back, supporting Rachel as her movements began to quicken. She could feel everything, in all the myriad ways they were connected. There was the sheen of sweat on Rachel’s skin, slick and hot; the flex of muscles as she slid along the length of Quinn’s cock, slowly at first and then with the recklessness of someone seeking completion; the tickle of Rachel’s hair against her fingertips as her head dropped back and the accompanying sharp pull as the clamps dug deeper into her skin; the invisible connection between them, given shape by the way their eyes met and held.
Quinn’s voice was a nearly soundless rasp. “Touch yourself.”
She didn’t reprimand Rachel for the deep moan she gave when her fingers found her clit. It was the sort of inconsistency she normally abhorred – a rule broken with no consequences – but there were times when greater purposes prevailed. Instead she watched as Rachel broke again, her movements devolving, losing rhythm.
Quinn let her settle, let her breathing begin to slow, before tipping them over. Once she had Rachel on her back, she rose to her knees, pulling free of the other girl’s body, and shimmied awkwardly out of the harness. It looked disconnected and strange in her hand, a jumble of straps and wet, shining cock, until she brought it to Rachel’s mouth. As she watched Rachel clean it, carefully licking away all traces of her arousal, Quinn released herself from the clamps. They clung to her skin, unwilling to give way; the flicker of pain on her face and the hiss she gave as blood began to flow again made Rachel’s eyes flash.
“My turn,” Quinn said, leaning back far enough to allow Rachel to scramble free. She massaged her breasts, drawing out the ache in her nipples by rolling them between her fingers, as Rachel stood; she was as expert at putting the harness on herself as she was Quinn, and so it wasn’t long before she was back where she’d been a moment ago, underneath Quinn and on her back, looking up expectantly.
Quinn leaned over slowly, and returned with the once rejected bottle of lube in hand. She squeezed a healthy amount into her palm, reached down, and began to stroke. It was surely a trick of her mind, her imagination telling her that the cock was still warm, but she didn’t care. As she drew herself up over the cock, the tip just teasing against her anus, she smirked. “Be gentle,” she said, taking in a sharp breath as she began to lower herself, “but not for long.”
The place where she went wrong, Quinn knew, was in going along with Rachel’s suggestion that they maybe try this sex thing while sober.
“I’m quite comfortable with alternative sexualities,” Rachel said, and Quinn could tell it was a wind-up. There was a lecture behind it, quite possibly outlined, footnoted, and accompanied by a resource guide.
Quinn didn’t want to hear it, so before Rachel could expound further, she interrupted with a snide, mocking, “I have two gay dads,” designed to do exactly what it did. Rachel’s monologue came to an abrupt halt. She became the living embodiment of sad, from the dejected tilt of her chin to the slump of her shoulders. Even her hair seemed flatter.
Quinn did feel slightly bad about that, but only momentarily – if she was going to have to continue having mediocre sober sex because of Rachel’s new sober sex initiative, she certainly wasn’t going to be lectured on it. But, she was dealing with Rachel, of course, and so it only took a moment for the other girl to pick up the pieces, put herself together, and push on.
“As you know, I took a course on human sexuality as a psychology elective last semester.” She paused, ignored Quinn’s groan, and continued. “Luckily, I still have all of my notes. Quinn, I think I’ve found the answer.”
She said it as if she’d discovered the cure to a vile disease that had been plaguing mankind for years.
Rachel slipped into the wounded puppy dog expression she seemed to be able to call up at will. “But you haven’t even heard my solution.”
“I don’t need to hear it.”
“But the answer to our slight issue is obvious. After a careful review of my notes – and I’m sure you know, Quinn, that I’m a scrupulous note-taker – I’ve discovered what it is that’s keeping us from experiencing the same level of sexual compatibility and success we were consistently experiencing before.”
“That’s kind of obvious, Rachel. Alcohol. Trying to pretend like this isn’t a series of drunken hook-ups is the problem. We don’t need whatever psychobabble cure you think you found in your notes to an introductory psychology class to fix that.”
“I don’t want to become a functional alcoholic just so we can have good sex. There are other ways to resolve this slight issue, so if you’d just listen to what I found through my research…”
She could tell from the obstinate expression on Rachel’s face that she was going to hear the answer anyway, and slumped back against her seat with a sigh.
“From my combined first-hand experience and the very descriptive notes I took during lecture, I feel I can confidently state that you, Quinn, are a masochist.” Rachel followed the proclamation with a smug smile. “You derive sexual enjoyment through the experience of pain.”
The smug smile faded as Quinn rose carefully, pulled on her jacket, and started for the apartment door.
“It’s okay.” Rachel’s voice had lost a little of its self-assurance. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with masochism.”
Quinn’s voice drifted back over her shoulder, hardly distinguishable from a snarl. “You can keep your diagnosis, Dr. Freud. I’m not a freak.”
Because Rachel’s notes had also told her that the best way to deal with a person with this particular paraphilia was to be stern and unyielding, she crossed her arms over her chest and pulled together what she hoped was a quite expressive scowl. “Quinn, I demand that you stop walking away and listen to me.”
“But it’s an order. I’m giving you an order.”
The doorknob turned under Quinn’s grip. “Just buy a bottle of tequila. It’ll fix this.”
Rachel tried again, her voice moving from stern to shrill. “You do not want to disobey me, Quinn.”
Quinn turned to look at her and sighed. Rachel was a combination of mulish, disappointed, worried, and adorable, and as much as Quinn wanted to walk away from the vortex of absurdity she knew was waiting for her, she found she couldn’t. “I mean, look, I understand. You’re you. You don’t really deal well with failure, but at some point, you’ve got cut your losses, Rachel. Let’s just go back to what we had before you tried to fix us. I think we work better broken.”
Rachel’s arms dropped to her side and her shoulders slumped. This time, the sad, puppy dog eyes weren’t manufactured.
“I don’t think I can, Quinn. The hangovers are getting to be a bit much, and I think I’ve gained five pounds. Alcohol is nothing but empty calories.” She bit the inside of her lip nervously. “And anyway, I really like being around you when you’re making rational decisions and expressing coherent thoughts. It’s actually kind of refreshing.”
The next place where she went wrong was in agreeing to at least give Rachel’s suggestion a shot. She’d been placed very carefully, told to wait on her knees beside the bed, and wasn’t sure she could be more uncomfortable. Rachel had draped scarlet silk scarves over all of the lamps and lined the room with candles. Quinn felt like she was in a bordello, possibly from one of those truly awful movies she sometimes saw snippets of on late-night cable, and the urge to get to her feet was nearly overwhelming. And then Rachel was there, and dear god, she’d been right about the alcohol.
Quinn didn’t know what was worse. The corset was a little much but understandable, and in other circumstances might not have been so bad, but the crotchless fishnets she could have done without. She was tempted to ask if Julia Roberts had called, asking for her hooker boots back, but was too distracted by Rachel’s thick, blood red lipstick and the severe yet flawless French twist to speak. And really, all of it might have been a little overboard but ultimately forgivable, had Rachel not been striking such a calculated pose and self-consciously tapping a riding crop against her palm.
“I can’t do this,” she muttered, already halfway to her feet.
Rachel smacked the crop against her palm with particular viciousness and winced. “I haven’t given you permission to stand.”
“Seriously, Rachel. I can’t do this.”
“Get back on your knees, slave.”
It was too much. “What you don’t understand,” Quinn said, voice low and dangerous, “is that all of this is ridiculous.” She advanced upon Rachel steadily, driving the other girl back with each step she took. “Your theory is ridiculous. This idea is ridiculous. You look ridiculous.” By now, Rachel was cowering tremulously against the wall on the far side of the hall. “You’re going to tell me what to do?” Quinn challenged. “Do you really think this is what I want?”
Rachel nodded weakly, eyes wide, not yet ready to relinquish her theory. Another step and Quinn was pressed tightly against her, trapping her against the wall. “You spent all of this time trying to figure out what I needed to change, about what you thought I needed to accept about myself. Did you ever think about yourself?” Quinn wrenched the crop from Rachel’s grasp and threw it to the floor. She caught Rachel’s wrist in her hand and brought it up above the other girl’s head, pinning it to the wall. Rachel’s gasp was involuntary. “You don’t want this,” Quinn said, grinding against her in long, slow movements. She felt emboldened, empowered. She felt as if she was looming over Rachel, and that, unlike before, did feel good. “You don’t want me on my knees like a perfect and well-behaved little pet.”
“No,” Rachel moaned, but it wasn’t a protest.
With a sudden movement, Quinn reversed their positions. Her hands found Rachel’s shoulders and she pushed down hard, unsurprised when Rachel sank obediently to her knees. “You didn’t learn anything," Quinn said, using one hand to push roughly at her underwear; the other rested on Rachel’s forehead, the gesture more for show than because it was needed. Rachel lifted her hands to help, fingers just brushing the fabric of Quinn’s panties, when Quinn grabbed her wrist again.
“No,” she said. The word was barely more than a snarl and Rachel’s resulting whimper echoed in the hallway, sharp and needy. “Isn’t this what you liked?” Quinn asked, finally wiggling free of the restricting fabric. “All those times, it was you on your knees. Do you really want to try to tell me what to do, Rachel? Think carefully.”
“No. Quinn, please…”
“That’s enough,” Quinn said sharply. She reached down, dragging her thumb across Rachel’s brightly painted lips, leaving behind a smear of color. “You don’t have to ask me for anything. I don’t need your stupid notes or theories. I know what you want, Rachel.”
Rachel stopped uncertainly, lips parted. She leaned forward, almost as if the weight of her unspoken plea was pushing her toward Quinn.
“First, you’re going to take that off.” Quinn gestured vaguely, eyes drifting down over Rachel’s carefully planned outfit. “You’re going to wash your face, and you’re going to take your hair down. When you’re finished, I’ll be waiting.”
“Rachel.” Quinn’s voice, at first sharp, softened. “I thought I told you to be quiet.”
Quinn sat on the edge of the bed and waited patiently, feeling a sense of calm drift over her as she heard the tap in the bathroom run. There was a gap of minutes between when it was shut off and when Rachel reappeared in the doorway, face freshly scrubbed and hair loose and soft around her shoulders. She’d replaced the outfit from before with a simple, oversized tee shirt. Her hands were clasped in front of her nervously and her eyes downcast; this felt right in the same way it had felt all wrong before.
“You can come here,” Quinn said softly. She parted her legs, drawing Rachel in between them, and slid her hands up under the tee to rest on Rachel’s hips. “Those things you had before – you don’t need them to make me want you. If you want to wear those things for you, that’s okay. If you want me to wear those things for you, it’s… negotiable. But, I don’t need you to do any of that for me. This is the way I like you best.” She paused, drawing Rachel’s tee shirt over her head, leaving her naked. She drew her thumb across Rachel’s mouth again, this time meeting nothing but smooth, clean skin. “This is what I want.” Her hand slipped down to stroke between Rachel’s legs, and she grinned. “I think maybe it’s what you want too.”
Rachel opened her mouth as if to speak. At Quinn’s glare, she closed it again; Quinn rewarded her by sliding her fingers up to focus on Rachel’s clit.
“Did you have a plan?” Quinn asked softly, watching Rachel with the sort of intensity that accompanies intimate confessions.
Rachel moved to speak again. “I…”
Quinn’s fingers stopped moving. Her voice both cautionary and dangerous, she said, “I believe I told you to be quiet.”
The way Rachel bit her bottom lip, penitent and chastised, just did something to Quinn. When she spoke again, her voice was strangled. “I want you to show me. What did you have planned?”
Rachel looked at her hesitantly, uncertain. Her hand came to rest lightly against Quinn’s breast, the tenuousness of the pressure lacking conviction. And even though Rachel’s hand was trembling, her touch barely ghosting against Quinn’s skin, Quinn felt her nipple harden in response.
“It’s okay,” she said. “Go ahead.”
When Rachel hesitated again, Quinn brushed a finger against her clit in encouragement. She felt Rachel’s hips jolt forward, watched her take a deep breath; her jaw clenched hard to hold back a moan when Rachel caught her nipple between two fingers and pinched, hard. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, forcing herself to remain still. She wanted to press herself into Rachel’s touch and demand more, but she held back. There were limits she wouldn’t cross, and indulgence was one of them.
“That’s good,” she said, the words thick on her tongue. “What else?”
Again, Rachel hesitated. She looked at Quinn uncertainly, and Quinn could see the question building.
“Rachel,” she warned. “I’ve asked you to do something. When I ask you to do something, I expect you to obey.”
There was something, the way Rachel seemed to sway, the way her eyelids fluttered shut, that piqued Quinn’s interest. “Do you like that word?” she asked. She smiled slyly, and brought her hand up to cup Rachel’s chin. “You’re allowed to answer.”
Rachel blushed deeply. Her eyes dropped, and Quinn could feel pressure against her hand. Rachel would have looked away, had she been able. In fact, she looked the way she had back in high school, waiting for Quinn to hurl insults – vulnerable, scared, and embarrassed.
Quinn’s voice was a rough scratch, filled with shame for deeds done years before. “It’s okay,” she said. She leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Rachel’s lips; her hand slid around to the back of Rachel’s neck as she deepened it. Rachel moved suddenly, surging forward, her hands coming up to grip Quinn’s shoulders tightly. Quinn’s first instinct was to pull away, to chastise, but she held back. She ended the kiss slowly, brought her hand up to push the hair out of Rachel’s eyes, and waited until Rachel met her gaze. “It’s okay, Rachel,” she said steadily. “It’s… I like it, okay.”
This time, she was the one who dropped her eyes away in embarrassment.
“You said…” Rachel had to stop, had to clear her throat for the words to come out clearly. “You said I was allowed to answer.”
Quinn looked up slowly, nodded, felt her control spinning away.
Rachel looked apprehensive, but determined. “I want to show you what else I had planned.”
She waited until Quinn gave a barely visible nod. At it, she lowered her head slowly, replaced fingers with teeth, and bit down. Quinn took a deep breath. She counted slowly, forced her mind to focus only on the pain and how long she could withstand it. She set a goal in mind and refused to speak until she’d reached it, the numbers ticking off slowly as she kept herself perfectly still. And when she reached her goal she waited still longer, feeling her control return.
“Good,” she said finally, triumphant, gripping Rachel’s hair and pulling her back. She positioned her at her other breast, then slid her hand back between Rachel’s legs. “Do it again.”
This time, it was too much. This time, she couldn’t control herself. She tried to wait but couldn’t, because there were other things she wanted more. She flipped them over and pressed Rachel into the bed, brought her free hand up to cover Rachel’s mouth and kept her other on her clit, rubbing tight circles with her fingers. This time, she didn’t bother to hide her expression. She let Rachel see it, stern, possessive, and just a hint feral, and watched as Rachel’s eyes widened and her breath quickened.
If Rachel wanted to figure her out, she’d show her the truth. She’d show her why it was better to do this the way they had before, with no one looking and alcohol for an excuse.
“You shouldn’t let me,” Quinn said. Rachel’s body was all uncoordinated motion, twisting and writhing, not sure if it wanted to press closer or pull away. “You shouldn’t let me do this to you.”
Later, when it was all over, Quinn pressed hard against the bedding, taking the sting left by the scratch of Rachel’s nails down her back and multiplying it. She tried to ignore the girl collapsed beside her, panting heavily, and wondered if she’d been born wrong or if somehow along the way, she’d made herself this way.
Rachel’s touch startled her, her hand soft against Quinn’s belly, and she jerked away.
“Quinn,” she said, echoing back the words that had been said to her earlier, and Quinn could hear the smile in her voice, “it’s okay. I like it.”
For a long moment, Quinn didn’t speak. When she did, her voice was full of self-recrimination. “You’re right about me. I’m a freak.”
She brought her hand to her face, covering her eyes. “There’s something wrong with me, Rachel. I wish you’d just left us alone.”
Rachel’s voice was insistent. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“I want all these things… It’s not right.”
This time, she didn’t flinch. When Rachel moved over her, straddling her hips and lowering herself down so that they were plastered together, she allowed it.
“I want to give them to you,” Rachel said softly, her lips by Quinn’s ear. “We can figure this out, together.”
“There’s no need for you to punish yourself.” Rachel’s voice took on the hint of a smirk. “Not when I can do it for you.”
“I don’t want to overwhelm you, but if you’d like for me to make a list of all the things I want too, I’m amenable. Just…” and her voice was back to shy, “don’t laugh at me.”
Quinn thought that maybe, if she said it plainly, Rachel would understand. “Rachel, I want you to hurt me.”
She could feel Rachel nod against her. “I know.”
“I want to make you do what I tell you to do.”
“And they’re not all good things.”
“No, I don’t think you do know.”
“I’ll do research on the internet. This is New York. There are probably workshops and seminars.”
Quinn pulled back far enough for Rachel to be able to see her glare. “I’m not going to a workshop.”
Rachel carried on, as if she hadn’t heard her. “What about the corset? I think we should get some use out of it, and I bet it would look amazing on you.”
“Don’t you hear what I’m saying?”
She was surprised by the way Rachel held her gaze, confident and clear. “Don’t you hear what I’m saying?” Rachel seemed to be waiting on her, and Quinn wondered when she’d become the one who just didn’t understand. “This is what I want.”
“You can’t mean that.”
“Let’s give it a try.It has to be better than my last plan.”
“This is… Rachel…”
“And I got free shipping if I spent over $75, so there may be a collection of items that I now own that can’t really be returned. It’s only practical, Quinn.”
“I do like free shipping,” Quinn said reluctantly.
Rachel’s smile was blinding. “You won’t regret it,” she vowed. “Well, not this time.”
“I changed your relationship status on Facebook.”
Quinn looked over to the bed, where Rachel was a boneless shape in the midst of a sea of strewn covers. She was hanging the crop back where it belonged, on its hook in the closet; out of the corner of her eye, reflected in the mirror, she could see the back of her thigh and the edge of two perfectly parallel lines. She was pale and they were vivid, and she flexed her muscles to feel the burn of them again.
“You did what?”
“I just didn’t think ‘it’s complicated’ was technically correct.”
Quinn shut the closet door and turned slowly. Rachel was propped on her elbows now, supine and gorgeous, with her sleepy eyes and wild hair.
“I beg to differ.”
“And my Dads were asking me if we had problems in our relationship. They think you’re afraid of commitment. They’re worried about me.”
“Your Dads are monitoring my Facebook relationship status?”
Rachel looked at her as if she was the odd one for thinking such a thing was in any way abnormal. “Of course they are.”
“I need new privacy settings.”
“Quinn, we’ve been discussing the possibility of a joint real estate venture for the past month. I think it’s safe to say that our relationship status has progressed beyond pre-programmed profile options.”
Quinn slid back into bed and sighed. She wrapped an arm around Rachel’s waist and tugged, making Rachel come to her. “I’d prefer it if you and your Dads left my Facebook page alone.” She didn’t even have to look to know her words were falling on unhearing ears. “So what did you put anyway?”
Rachel leaned into her with a smile, pressing a kiss to Quinn’s collarbone. One hand slid down to Quinn’s wrist and wrapped around it loosely. “Locked down,” she murmured, smirking.
Quinn tilted her head back and laughed, the sound light and clear.