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Husking

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Johanna spends a lot of time rocking lately, especially on rainy days. She hugs her knees to her chest and tilts slowly forward, then backward, over and over and over again, often with the knuckle of her thumb between her teeth. The repetitious movement gives her something to focus on, something that doesn't make her feel like she's drowning.

Today, she's sitting at the edge of the bathtub that's set into the bathroom floor, with one foot dipped in the water. That's really all she can manage, even though she's turned on every light in the tiny room, even though she's already managed to take off all of her clothes, even though the tub is only half full. It takes everything she has just to wiggle her toes under the water, so she just sits and rocks. At least her goddamn foot will be clean.

When Katniss enters the room, the first thing she can see is Johanna's naked backside. Johanna's spine and ribs shift slightly under her skin as she moves, slowly, back and forth. She looks so small from this angle-- too small, really, to contain such a large personality. "Johanna."

Johanna says nothing, she just shakes her head. Katniss walks forward and risks placing her palm lightly on the skin of Johanna's back, expecting some sort of rebuke. Johanna stops momentarily but then resumes rocking, staring through the tub with her thousand-yard stare and blank, empty eyes. "What do you need?" Katniss asks.

"Just one shining moment of not being afraid. Can you do that, sweetheart?"

Katniss presses her lips together while she thinks. When Prim was younger, she used to be afraid of thunderstorms, especially at night. Whenever she heard thunder, Katniss would calm her down by letting Prim crawl into bed with her. The calming effect came from the proximity and protection of another person's body. Maybe she could coax Johanna into the water with a similar tactic?

She wraps her hair into a quick bun and takes off her outer clothes, folding them neatly in a pile next to the door. Then, she steps past Johanna and into the tub. "Come on."

"Fuck you." Johanna says, but she doesn't move away.

"Come on." Katniss sits down. "My underwear is cold and I think it's clinging to my ass. You better get in here with me or I'll put them in your bed while they're still wet."

Johanna sighs. "Sorry. The water was actually really warm at one point. I guess I've been sitting here a while."

"That's okay. We can put more hot water in." Katniss turns on the tap, and Johanna moves back slightly at the sound of the water dumping into the tub. "Look, I'll open the drain so that it doesn't get any fuller, okay?"

This seems to placate Johanna a little bit, because she puts her other foot in the water now, too. Katniss could go without the crotch shot, but in the scheme of things, she isn't going to complain about it right now. Instead, she reaches out a hand and puts it on Johanna's foot, caressing the ankle lightly. She runs her fingers over the delicate bones, muscles, and tendons.

"That's nice," Johanna says quietly, letting her feet drop into the tub until the water is almost up to her knees. She's no longer in a fetal position and is now in a more normal sitting position. She takes the opportunity to stretch her spine, lifting her arms over her head, pushing out her small breasts in the process. Katniss is again struck by how small everything about Johanna looks these days, as though whatever they had put her through in the Capitol had actually shrunk her. When she finishes stretching, she grips the edge of the tub with her hands.

Katniss continues caressing up Johanna's legs with both hands now, kneading the calf muscles and tracing her kneecaps with her fingers. Johanna's skin pulls into goosebumps, despite the warmth of the water. "Are you going to keep going up, or...?"

"Do you need me to?" Katniss asks plainly. Johanna doesn't say anything, but she plants her feet on the bottom of the tub and stands up. Katniss is face to-- well-- face-to-pubic hair with Johanna's body. She tries not to let it faze her, but Johanna laughs out loud. If anything makes Johanna comfortable, it's making other people uncomfortable.

"Okay. Okay, fine," Johanna says, inching slowly down into the water. She lets it up past her knees, then allows it to pool in her lap, and then, finally, she sits down on the bottom of the tub with her back to Katniss. Katniss spreads her legs so that Johanna can scoot up next to her between them, and she rubs Johanna's back, wetting the skin with water cupped in her hands.

Johanna is still tense, but slightly less so. She allows Katniss to continue, who splashes small handfuls of water on Johanna's shoulders, letting it drip down Johanna's chest and then back into the tub. Johanna closes her eyes and allows it to happen, her jaw set firmly in her mouth, but leaning back into Katniss's space, not quite touching her yet.

Katniss reaches around Johanna's sides and lifts water onto Johanna's stomach now, letting it drip down off of her fingers to pool in Johanna's bellybutton. She wraps her right arm across Johanna's chest and plants her hand firmly over Johanna's heart, just above her left breast. She can feel Johanna's heart beating rapidly, so she presses it there, holding Johanna steady.

Johanna lies back against Katniss, breathing slowly through her nose, letting the pressure against her heart and the solidity of Katniss's body against her back calm her. Her arms float, limp and buoyant, at her sides. Katniss feels Johanna's heart start to beat more slowly, her breathing becoming slower and more even, so she moves her hands down over Johanna's breasts. Johanna lets out a small hum, and Katniss thinks briefly that she's never heard Johanna make such a sound. "Don't stop," Johanna says with the slightest hint of annoyance, so Katniss moves her hands down even lower, over Johanna's stomach and on to her thighs, tracing the soft skin lightly with her fingertips. Johanna lets out another one of those small hums, which Katniss takes for approval.

Katniss has an idea where this is heading, and she has some reservations, but she also knows that Johanna needs this. She closes her eyes and lets her hands move from memory (Johanna's can't be that much different from her own, after all). She traces up Johanna's thighs to her pubic hair, and then down, brushing Johanna's hood with her index finger. Johanna lets out a long, shaky exhale, and Katniss knows she has the right spot.

She moves her finger slowly in a circle, rubbing over the hood and the sensitive skin surrounding it, maintaining her tiny movements with a steady pace. Johanna's jaw relaxes and her lips part, allowing her to breathe deeply. She starts rocking again, differently this time, tilting her hips forward and backward as she rides Katniss's hand. Katniss feels her own skin pulling into goosebumps, her nipples hard against Johanna's back, as her body responds in kind to the reaction she's getting from Johanna's.

Johanna tilts her head back and to the side, pressing her face against Katniss's neck. Their warm, damp skin sticks to one another, and Johanna breathes against Katniss's throat, tickling it lightly. Katniss bites the inside of her cheek, worried that she'll let out some sort of noise that will convey her own arousal (why she's embarrassed about being aroused right now, she has no idea). With her free hand, she reaches up and caresses Johanna's breast, rubbing her thumb over Johanna's nipple.

Johanna sinks further into the tub, seemingly unaware that she's allowed the water to come all the way up over her breasts, almost to her clavicle. She flexes her toes and lets out a series of small noises, starting out high but getting progressively deeper and more guttural. Katniss maintains the same small circular movements with her fingers, but she increases the speed to match Johanna's small noises. Before long, Johanna's abdominal muscles clench, and she pulls away from Katniss with a short, bursting moan. "Oh, fuck. Oh... fuck."

Katniss slows her movements back down until they are almost imperceptible, but Johanna continues riding them as she comes, deep and slow, rocking gently. Finally, she collapses against Katniss, eyes closed, body limp and sticky and soaking wet. Katniss pulls her hand away and places it over one of Johanna's temples, kissing the other temple lightly.

"Thank you," Johanna whispers, but Katniss shushes her. She holds Johanna tightly until their breathing slows back to normal, and then she grabs a sponge. Tonight, when Johanna lies down to sleep, she would feel husked and fully clean, inside and out, for the first time in a very long time.