Savannah doesn't make decisions lightly. She knows that there are always consequences and that you have to answer to God and yourself. She prays and thinks, thinks and prays and knows what has to be done.
Transferring isn't easy but it's right for her.
At first the distance doesn't hurt. There are headaches, stomachaches, minor little pains that come and go when people touch her but it's nothing she can't endure. She's always been tougher than she looks.
Savannah doesn't really understand how the bond works. She knows that it's almost unbreakable and that the moment she decided she was no longer a part of the team there was pain.
Before there was kind of a buzz of excess feeling, an awareness of what every member of the squad was feeling. She was never alone.
After, it was all muffled. She could tell that they were feeling something but there was no definition and always that lurking ache that turned into sharp pain whenever someone touched her.
Marti is the first person at Lancer to touch Savannah and not make her want to scratch her skin off.
It's jarring, especially since Savannah had been about to slap her, but she takes it as a sign and when Marti shows up to audition for the Hellcats Savannah knows how to vote.
The problem is that Savannah wants to touch Marti all the time.
She hasn't been a very tactile person since she joined the Hellcats, but she's been there long enough to know how to fake it.
It's just. It's been so long since the touch of another person didn't hurt that Savannah wants to keep testing the boundaries.
So she touches. A lot. Gives out quick easy hugs and grabs Marti's hand when she's excited.
She can't just start touching Marti while still mostly avoiding everyone else. So Savannah starts touching all of the Hellcats.
She has to work up to it most of the time, mentally prepare for that flare of pain so she can hide it as fast as possible.
It hurts, seems like it hurts more than before the first time Marti touched her, like having that one person feel good makes every other touch hurt that much more.
Savannah doesn't see any point in stopping because every time she touches Marti or Marti touches her she knows that it's worth it.
Every time she feels that - it's not an absence of pain exactly, more a hyper awareness. Her skin heats up and it's almost too sensitive, nothing like what it was like to touch any of her old team, it's so very much better.
It takes Marti two months to notice.
They're in the common room and everyone is getting ready to go out, talking about something that Savannah isn't really paying attention to when Lewis laughs and slaps her on the back before heading for the door.
Savannah gasps, then coughs to cover it up yelling, "I'll be down in a little bit, I just need to finish something up," before deliberately walking slowly to her room.
She takes three slow, deep breaths trying to push down the pain. It is always, always worse when she doesn't see it coming, isn’t prepared for the pain.
When it's a surprise it's like being hit with a hot poker and she never knows if there's going to be a bruise or if the only sign that anything happened will be her anxiety.
Savannah doesn't notice that she's not alone until Marti says, "Are you okay?"
Savannah schools her face into something as close to normal as possible, turns around and smiles, "I'm fine. Just a little cough but nothing a bottle of water can't fix."
Marti raises an eyebrow, and makes a face, "You went all 'bah' when Lewis touched you."
She stops for a second, "And now that I think about it you do that a lot, what's going on?"
"Nothing!" Savannah says, "I just have a little bruise on my back, I forgot it was there for a second. It's not a big deal." Savannah tries to keep up her most innocent face, the one she used to break out when her grandma would sneak her candy when her mom had already said no.
It doesn't work.
Marti narrows her eyes, "Lift up your shirt. Show me."
Savannah's eyes widen, "Wha-what? Why?" Savannah fiddles with the edge of her shirt, "I told you it's not a big deal. And we should get going."
Marti crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow.
Savannah hates that look, it's an 'I'm going to stand here until you do what I want' kind of look.
"If it's not a big deal then it's no problem for you to show me," Marti says. "Take off your shirt."
"Fine," Savannah says, "I'll lift it up but I'm not taking it off. That will just mess up my hair and then we'll never get going."
Savannah turns around, lifts up the bottom of her shirt just a tiny bit and says, "See? Nothing, let's go."
Marti laughs, "You are worse than my mother. Turn around."
Savannah turns her back to Marti and waits, nervous, hoping that maybe this time there is not actually a hand shaped mark on her.
Savannah feels Marti's fingers come sliding along her sides, up under her shirt and then she's tugging, "Lift your arms." Savannah does as she's told, letting out a breath she didn't realize she was holding.
She feels better already just from that brief little hint of a touch.
Marti sucks in a deep breath, "Savannah! How-?" she says cutting herself off.
Savannah is trying to think of a convincing lie when Marti starts tracing the hand-print with her fingertips. Savannah does her best not to lean back into the touch, holding herself as still as possible.
"Why do you have a bruise that looks like a hand?" Marti asks, voice barely above a whisper. She hasn't stopped touching Savannah, fingers tracing a the outline of the bruise.
Savannah doesn't need to see it to know it's starting to fade the more Marti touches it. She shrugs, "It's not serious Marti, it just. It happens sometimes when people touch me."
Marti stops, "Am I hurting you?" She pulls her hand away and Savannah immediately feels alone.
"No!" Savannah says turning around quickly.
She grabs one of Marti's hands and holds it between hers, "You've never hurt me."
Marti doesn't look too sure but she doesn't try to move away either, "Are you sure? You don't need to lie about this."
"I promise. You've never hurt me," Savannah says, then sighs, "You're one of the only people it doesn't hurt to touch."
"Why?" Marti asks lacing their fingers together.
Savannah smiles a little, that added contact is making that bruise on her back feel even better, "I don't know. The only other people it doesn't hurt to touch are my old squad. Even my mom hurts."
Marti raises her eyebrows, "Huh. I wouldn't have expected the religious school to be into cursing former students."
"It's not a curse! It's a way to bring a squad closer together," Savannah says, "I just should have made my decision to-"
Savannah drifts off mid-sentence distracted.
Marti is rubbing her thumb in tiny, circles on Savannah's hand. There's barely any pressure at all but they don't usually touch this much for this long and it's kind of a sensory overload.
"Um," Savannah says, "You know. My decision to leave-" Savannah gasps. Marti has pressed her thumb, just a little, into the gap between Savannah's thumb and finger. It feels amazing.
"Are you okay?" Marti asks.
Savannah nods, "Yeah. Yes. I just. My back hurts a little and." Savannah doesn't know how to say 'and that thing you're doing is making it better and making it hard to stand up'.
"You're just. You're touching me way more than normal and it's a little overwhelming," Savannah says, and then when she sees the look on Marti's face, adds, "Good overwhelming! Totally good, great even."
"Do you want me to stop?" Marti asks, she stops pressing her thumb down.
Savannah says, "No! Never," and then her eyes widen a little, "I mean. Um."
Marti smiles, "Okay. I can-" Marti moves closer, sliding her other hand along Savannah's side. "Is this okay?"
Savannah nods, says, "Yes, yes," almost out of breath. Marti's fingers are dancing a pattern along her waist and they're so close now that she feels a little warm puff of air every time Marti exhales.
She grabs onto Marti's arm, just under her shoulder, because she's not sure how long she's going to be able to stand up.
It feels different and better, more intense every second they keep touching and there's a little voice in Savannah's head that keeps saying 'Marti should take off her shirt too' that she's trying to ignore. Kind of.
"Savannah, can I?" Marti starts, stops.
She squeezes Savannah's waist a little and Savannah bites her lip, goes up on her tiptoes for a second because God.
Marti says something but Savannah doesn't hear it, at all.
All of her focus is on Marti's fingers and the breath on her neck and the other hand that's now on her waist. She can barely focus on anything beyond what she feels, which is amazing.
"What?" Savannah asks trying to zone back in a little.
"Can I try something?" Marti asks again, hands firm against Savannah' waist.
Savannah says, "Sure, yes, okay," quick, still barely able to focus on anything other than all the places Marti is touching her.
And. Marti slides one hand up Savannah's side, up across her shoulder to the base of her neck and she kisses her.
Savannah has never kissed a girl before. She’s thought about it, in some small corner of her mind where she keeps all the things her mother doesn’t approve of, but it’s not something she ever expected to do. But. She doesn't hesitate to kiss Marti back.
It’s almost too much to handle, Marti’s hands and her skin, and her mouth, Savannah feels like she’s about to vibrate out of her skin from it all.
Marti pulls away for a second, not too far, but far enough for Savannah to make a noise she’d be embarrassed about if she could work up any emotion to care and asks, “Is this still okay?”
Savannah whispers, “yes, God yes,” and leans forward to kiss Marti again.
“Good, good,” Marti whispers against Savannah’s lips, “I think maybe we should stay in tonight. Give your back time to heal.”
Savannah whispers, “absolutely,” and lets Marti back her toward their beds. And for the first time since she made the decision to leave her old squad Savannah doesn’t feel any pain.