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it's a fine line between love and death

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It's tough work, being the boss lady. Keeping it together to not seem weak, to not be written off as an insane sidekick whose usefulness expired with her love, to not be contested by clowns who insist on basking in a legacy that's not theirs.

She ain't no domme, but her goons sure appreciate her heels grindin' their noses into the dust. Maybe they're playing along because she tries so hard, or maybe they're enjoyin' themselves.

At least someone is.

It's fun enough, dressing them up or down, butting heads with the biggest and meanest of them, giving them a run for their money. But she needs soemthing more, something different. Steel-tipped claws and thorny vines perforating her skin with breathing holes are a good start but even a concerted effort of her gal-pals can't satisfy that darkest part of her, and it's only so long before she feels like sucking air through a straw again.

Until she meets Christina. Who makes that metaphor reality, folding Harley into a tub of ice-water, and Harley's thinking—well, Harley thought this could be useful for underwater getaways; now she ain't thinking much at all. She's concentrating on not panicking, on forcing her breath out and in steadily, on not disappointing Christina. She lasts a lifetime before water goes down the wrong pipe. She splutters and struggles against Christina's grip in her hair.

When Christina finally pulls her up, Harley's coughing and trembling and retching and sloshing bathwater everywhere—but still blessedly alive.