Raven resumes laughing as soon as she recovers the breath knocked out of her lungs by her landing in a heap at the bottom of the hill, streaked with dirt and dandelion milk and scratched by sticks and blades of grass. She rolls on her back and sprawls out her limbs in the shape of an X, only regretting this choice when Ariadne finishes picking her way down the slope and throws herself on top of Raven, whooping as she alights with knees on either side of Raven's hips and lunging with wriggling fingers for her exposed ribs and armpits. “Gotcha!” Ariadne cries.
“Oh fuck.” Raven gulps and giggles as she tries to defend herself, limbs snapping together into a protective ball, but Ariadne ignores Raven's knees slamming into her ass and keeps squirming her fingers, now trapped between Raven's arms and her torso, cackling with triumphant glee. “Wait, wait, stop,” Raven gasps, her back arching, grinding the back of her head into the grass and dirt. “Let me up.”
Ariadne does, sitting back on her heels, and Raven does take a moment to catch her breath before she springs up off her back, shoving Ariadne off of her thighs onto the grass as she rolls to her feet. Ariadne flails and grabs for Raven's hand, but Raven twists her arm free of Ariadne's grasp and sets off running across the field, towards the tree house at the edge of the woods with its rope ladder and its dangling tire swing.
She stumbles once, tripping on some invisible divot in the otherwise flat plain (a divot that may not have existed a second before she planted her foot in it, but she's not about to call Ariadne out on playing dirty, not after some of the tricks she's pulled in here), and Ariadne is on her again, crashing into her back and tackling her to the ground. Raven rolls with the motion, turning over and over until she comes out on top, with Ariadne's body pinned against the grass beneath her own. “Gotcha,” Raven repeats, trapping Ariadne's wrists and holding them up above her head, then stoops to taunt Ariadne with her protruding tongue, her face held just close enough that Ariadne can almost reach to bite her, straining up as hard as she can, although Raven is too quick to get caught in any of her desperate lunges.
“Bitch,” Ariadne says, and struggles in Raven's grip, grinding her body up against Raven's. Raven grins and licks a broad stripe up the side of Ariadne's face, purring delightedly at Ariadne's indignant squawk. “Get off!” Ariadne whines, then gurgles adorably and kicks her feet in the air as Raven sticks her tongue in her ear, swirling it around like a wet and wiggling worm. “I hate you,” Ariadne complains, and Raven laughs fondly as she climbs to her feet, rolling Ariadne onto her belly and giving her a swat on the ass before continuing on her sprint towards the tree line.
Ariadne reaches the tire swing first, hurtling past Raven's shoulder and thumping her on the back with an open palm as Raven begins to decelerate those last few metres, her feet crunching on brittle old pine needles. She throws herself into the swing, grabbing hold of the chains to haul herself up to sitting in the basin of the sideways tire and holding on tightly as the rubber donut swings wildly.
Raven catches up to her, dodging the juddering tire and grabbing hold of a chain. She runs in a circle around the trampled space below the swing, twisting the chains around one another again and again, over their rattling objection and Ariadne's yelp as she shifts her grip, flattening herself against the rubber to avoid getting pinched between the tightening chains.
Ariadne squeals when Raven lets go and leaps back, the tire whipping around beneath the tree as the chain unwinds and spinning Ariadne around and around with it. By the time the chains reach the end of their compensatory overextension and start to twist back the other way with a creak and a jerk, that squeal has given way to giddy laughter. “Whee!” Ariadne trills, flopping her arms and head back over the edge of the twitching tire.
Raven waits for the tire's spasming to die down a bit more before she steadies the chain and climbs on top of it along with Ariadne, balancing with her scraped knees on the cool rubber and one hand on the chain by Ariadne's shoulder. “Having fun?” she asks, reaching up to draw her grubby fingers down the underside of Ariadne's exposed throat.
Ariadne laughs and nods, lifting her head and curling up to rest with one elbow on the swaying tire. “Could be having more,” she says, reaching up with her free hand to unhook one strap of Raven's denim overalls, flipping the buckle back over her shoulder. She puts her hand on the patch of bare skin at Raven's hip, between the snaps of her overalls and the hem of her shirt, already riding up towards her waist. She opens her mouth to Raven's kiss, pushing her shirt up higher until she can reach underneath it to palm Raven's unsupported breast as Raven undoes the fly on Ariadne's grass-stained shorts and pulls them down around her hips.
Raven slips her fingers through the slit at the front of Ariadne's white-trimmed red briefs and finds her wet and eager, tilting her hips to rub back against Raven's hand as much as the wobbling swing will allow. Ariadne bites her lip and makes a growling noise, trying to get more friction without falling through the tire's empty middle and Raven shifts her position to make it easier for her.
The quaking of Ariadne's thighs when she comes shudders all the way up the chains to the floor of the tree house and out to the tips of the branches of the tree itself. Raven looks up at the green-silver shimmer of the rustling leaves and laughs when her eye catches on a weathered cardboard sign hanging crookedly from the trailing rope ladder: block Sharpie capitals, “NO GIRLS ALLOWED”.
Arthur jumped at the sound of Eames' voice, twisting around in his camp chair to look at him and nearly tipping the whole thing over. “Everything's fine. I was just—”
“Watching Ariadne and my new apprentice sleep?”
Arthur frowned, because when you put it like that . . . “Monitoring them for signs of distress,” he said, indicating the metres on the PASIV device that blinked out markers of physiological arousal.
Eames stepped in closer, taking in Ariadne's parted lips below flushed cheeks and fluttering eyelids, and the small noises that their new recruit, Raven, made as she twitched in her chaise like a dog dreaming of the chase. “They don't look distressed.”
“Well, no,” Arthur admitted. “But.” He shrugged.
“Quite,” Eames said. He blinked at the women, both hooked up to the same machine. “They're getting along rather well, aren't they? I mean they've certainly been spending a lot of time training together in the dreamstate.”
“Yeah,” Arthur agreed with a sigh. “I suppose it's nice for Ari, finally having another girl around to talk to.”
Eames hummed and turned to leave, but Arthur held him back with a question.
“What do you reckon they're up to, in there?”
“Oh, I don't know,” Eames said. “Sugar and spice and whatever else it is women are supposed to like, I guess. Ponies? Shoes?”
Eames wandered off and Arthur settled back down in his seat, resting his face on his hand on his elbow on the arm of the chair, wondering how to account for the way Raven whimpered and tossed her head, and the small smile playing across Ariadne's sleeping face.