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Social Grooming

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“Hey, Ken, do the thing,” Bart said as she sat down hard in the middle of the hotel room floor.

Ken held in a laugh but did smile. “Okay." At least she'd put on some clothes after he shower this time. "Let me get the brush.” Bart grunted her understanding.
 
Once he’d retrieved the brush from their bags, he settled on the floor behind her. Obligingly, Bart tilted her head back. The moment the brush touched her scalp, she relaxed, eyes slipping shut and back curving.
 
Her hair was getting long again. It went just past her shoulders. Without all the mats and dirt and blood, it formed wiry, frizzy waves that tickled Ken’s fingers.  She practically purred as he ran the brush through her hair. This was it. This was one of only two good things to come out of that whole Blackwing fiasco.
 
She’d told him once, after they’d gotten free and somehow reacquired the dog, that there was a list. It came to her in a dream one night the first time they had her, much like Dirk Gently’s had before they met. This list, however, was definitely meant for death and didn't have the same urgency. The second capture had finally let her finish killing everyone on that fifteen year old list. Ken still hadn’t decided if the relief in her voice had been from that accomplishment or the way he’d been running a comb through her then inch long hair.
 
They deserved it. Every single one of them she’d snuffed. Ken gently worked a tangle free. Bart hummed, slouching almost into his lap.
 
She’d killed one of those bastards with a pen she’d found in her hair. After that, they’d sent Ken in with scissors, some clippers, and strict instructions to shave her head. The only thing she’d seemed concerned about as Ken hacked off her frankly gross hair was her head being cold.
 
Bart fell into his lap entirely, half-asleep and mouth breathing.
 
Something about the situation must have felt nice. She seemed to decide it meant Ken was in charge of maintaining her hair.
 
Her oral hygiene was another story though, Ken thought as he caught a whiff of her breath. Mouthwash was apparently disgusting and burn-y to her, though Bart did seem to like bubblegum toothpaste. She just had a tendency to eat it rather than use it. The universe took care of her teeth though, Ken guessed. She sure didn’t.
 
Even the hair thing wasn’t about her hair. Bart snuggled against him as he ran the brush easily from scalp to ends. Ken hummed to himself softly and kept brushing. She deserved this.