Jess walked into Murphy’s bedroom and found her, as expected, already half passed out, sprawled across the bed on her stomach, stripped down to a tank top and boy shorts. She shut the door and walked over to stand to the left of the bed, the spot she usually brought Murphy’s breakfast and ibuprofen. “Turn over and look at me,” she said, arms folded across her chest.
“What? Why, I can’t see you,” Murphy mumbled. “I just want to go to sleep and forget today ever happened. Or maybe my life. Forget my life ever happened.”
You can try doing that later. I just talked to Max.”
Murphy groaned. “He’s not still here, is he?”
“No Murphy, he’s not still here,” Jess said, exasperation creeping into her tone. “And I didn’t get the whole story out of him either, like why he was bleeding for example. But the part I did hear wasn’t that surprising.”
Murphy finally gave in and rolled onto her back, turning her head in the direction of Jess’s voice.
“You put your hands in the buffet food and ate off of your fingers? After you cut in line?”
“The buffet wasn’t handicap accessible.”
“And that’s a valid reason for acting like an animal?”
Jess clenched her jaw and took a breath before continuing. “Then you spilled all over yourself and wouldn’t let Max help you, and when the manager came and asked you to leave, you got physically violent? Stop me if I’m wrong.”
Murphy made a face. “The manager put his hands on me, Jess. Lose/lose situation, you know that.”
“He wouldn’t have had to if you let Max help you!” Jess said incredulously. “Stop trying to make things everyone else’s fault.”
“Why was Max bleeding?”
Murphy shrugged one shoulder and rolled onto her side facing away from her friend.
“Don’t do that,” Jess said, her irritation growing. Murphy was always difficult to talk to about things like this but she was pushing buttons that had been lit up for a while.
“Don’t do what?”
“Turn away from me like I’m someone you can ignore,” Jess replied. “Or shrug your shoulder like you don’t know what happened.”
Murphy made a sort of growling sound but turned back over. “I accidentally hit him in the nose. I’m not sure if it was with my elbow or the serving spoon.”
“So you accidentally threw an elbow?”
“No, it was just accidentally him that it hit.”
At least she was being honest, but Jess had reached her limit. “That’s it.”
“What’s it? What does that mean?”
Jess stood in silence for a minute, running over the past few years in her head. All of the stupid, stubborn, reckless, nasty things Murphy had done that she had overlooked because they were best friends.
“Jess?” Murphy asked, sitting up and reaching out toward where her friend’s voice had last been. “What does that mean? Are you done, are you leaving?” Her voice sounded a lot more panicked than she would have liked. It wasn’t her fault Max was stupid enough to touch her when she was angry. And they should have given her a Braille menu or at least told her what was in the buffet.
Jess grabbed Murphy’s hand immediately and reassured her. No matter how annoyed she was, she didn’t want Murphy thinking that, ever. “No, you idiot, I’m not leaving. I can never be done with you, you should know that.”
Murphy’s heart stopped trying to beat out of her chest and she tried to play it off, snatching her hand back and running it through her hair with a snort as she laid down as casually as possible. “Yeah, I know.” But then that still left the question. “What did you mean then?”
“That I’ve had it with your reckless entitlement,” Jess explained, sitting on the edge of the bed. Mattress and box spring, really. “Max should’ve—well, no, I would have killed him. So that leaves it up to me. Sit up, Murph.”
Murphy was tiring of the cryptic responses but sat up with a sigh. “What.”
“I probably should have done this a long time ago.”
“Done what, Jess? I can’t fucking see whatever you’re doing!” Murphy finally raised her voice. “Did you smoke too much and forget that I’m fucking blind?!”
Jess didn’t even bother taking a breath to cool off at that one, she just grabbed Murphy by the arm and used the element of surprise to drag her friend across her lap, a strong arm wrapping around her waist to hold her there.
Murphy shrieked at the sudden contact and her jaw dropped when the pieces all fell into place. Jess thought she was going to—that was ridiculous, and she couldn’t help laughing. “Very funny, Jess.”
Jess brought her right hand down sharply across the seat of Murphy’s boy shorts, allowing a tiny smirk to cross her lips when Murphy’s laughter stopped abruptly and she yelped instead. Smirk disappearing, she waited for the fallout, fully expecting Murphy to punch, kick, or bite. Or at the very least shoot up off her lap despite the hold she had.
Murphy was shocked into stillness, the sound echoing in her ears, and she barely felt the slap because her brain was overrun with rapidly firing synapses and about a dozen different emotions. She should probably struggle, or punch Jess or something, but she just laid there trying to figure out how in the actual fuck they had gotten into this position.
Jess blinked in surprise, but took the lack of struggle as acceptance and brought her palm down solidly again, the smack echoing off the walls with satisfying sharpness.
“Wait!” Murphy finally found her voice. “That didn’t mean I was—my—my—I mean I wasn’t giving you permission to—”
“I wasn’t asking for permission,” Jess interrupted, laying down a third slap just under the hem of the shorts, on Murphy’s bare skin.
Murphy gasped and curled her hands into her sheets for something to hold onto, to anchor herself. She couldn’t find it in her to tell Jess to stop straight out because that would mean she couldn’t handle it. And she could handle anything. So she went for sheer manipulation. “Vanessa’s going to—”
Jess smacked her harder in the same spot and interrupted her again. “Vanessa’s smart enough and knows me well enough to understand that this isn’t remotely sexual.” Another stinging spank on her bare skin followed.
Murphy dropped her forehead to the mattress and gritted her teeth. Fuck, that did not feel great. She could still totally handle it, it was just uncomfortable. Or maybe not even uncomfortable, just slightly annoy—who was she kidding? It hurt. But Jess didn’t need to know that. “She’s still gonna ice you out.”
Jess ignored her that time, knowing it was a defense mechanism like so many other things about Murphy, and decided to really just go for it. She let her hand fall several times in a row, stopping to gauge Murphy’s reaction only briefly before keeping up the spanking in a steady rhythm.
When Jess paused, Murphy almost tried to get up, thinking her friend had had her fill of this ridiculous charade, but wow, she was wrong, because now Jess wasn’t stopping at all, and fuck, that stung. In more ways than one. She could try to pretend she wasn’t embarrassed, but her face was burning with shame. And how long did Jess plan on doing this? Maybe if she was quiet…
Jess was determined to get through to Murphy somehow, and talking had just not been cutting it… not for a long time now. So maybe this was weird or stupid, but she’d gotten farther in the past five minutes than the past five months, so maybe it wasn’t stupid. Probably still weird, but she honestly couldn’t care less if she got the result she wanted and Murphy would open up. Maybe even stop pushing Max away if they could finally talk about the root of the problem.
Okay, so being quiet wasn’t helping because Jess seemed to be smacking her harder now if anything, and to her horror she found herself trying to squirm away from her friend’s palm. But that just made Jess’s left arm tighten around her waist and then she had no hope of getting away unless she really wanted to fight. After a few more minutes she realized she wasn’t actually even being quiet… she was whimpering. Jesus Christ… “Jess, come on,” she said breathlessly.
“Oh, now are you taking me seriously?” Jess asked, not even pausing the spanking as she spoke.
“I always t—ahh—I always take you ser—seriously,” Murphy tried to promise, her voice sounding strange to her own ears. She never sounded like that. Pleading wasn’t in her repertoire of voice tones. Except apparently now it was.
“Did you take me seriously when I asked you what happened? When I asked if your reproachable behavior was justified? How about last week when I tried to talk to you about therapy? Or last month when I suggested you try to find some common ground with your mom?”
Murphy winced as those last two conversations flashed through her mind. She had been sarcastic and nasty… basically she had been a dick. “I can’t go to therapy, I—ah!” She cried out at a particularly sharp smack and decided talking was turning out worse than staying quiet.
“Did you, Murphy?”
Oh, she wanted an actual answer. “You know my relationship with my mom is complic—fuck, Jess!” She felt the traitorous sting of tears in her eyes at the punishing slaps that she couldn’t escape.
She was going to have to take responsibility for those conversations or this was never going to end. Jess was pretty damn cunning. She closed her eyes and bit her lip, breathing through the pain of giving up her excuses and her tactic of blaming everyone else, at least for this one moment. “No.”
Jess was actually a bit shocked she had gotten Murphy to admit it. They had only been at this for a few minutes. This was basically a gigantic breakthrough. Why hadn’t she thought of this sooner? “No, you treated me like shit, didn’t you?” Moment of truth… would Murphy cop out now that she expected more honesty? She strayed her hand down to the backs of Murphy’s thighs just as a reminder.
Murphy gasped at the new sensation. Her thighs felt more tender than her ass and she renewed her fruitless efforts to escape the blows. “I didn’t—”
“Murphy!” Jess interrupted yet again, her voice holding a clear warning. “Cut the bullshit.”
“Okay!” Murphy cried out again, her knuckles white and her fingers starting to ache from her grip on the sheets. “Yes,” she answered the question. That almost hurt more than the spanking.
This was going spectacularly. Murphy had never admitted to anything before, at least not that she could remember. “Yes what?”
Murphy scoured her brain for that one and came up blank as to what Jess wanted. “Yes, Jessica?” she guessed, pressing her face harder into the mattress.
Jess almost laughed but she kept it together. This was important. “I meant yes to what, as in yes, I treated you like shit.”
“Yes, I treated you like shit,” Murphy said in a rush before the spanking could escalate for non-responsiveness. She didn’t need Jess to be hitting any harder.
Jess felt a little like she was floating on air. She was careful not to take things too far, though, and she kept the spanking on an even keel now, alternating cheeks. “When we’re done here you’re going to text Max and apologize.”
“Fuck,” Murphy groaned, tossing her head to one side, then the other. She didn’t think she could take much more.
Jess paused for a minute, rubbing her hand over Murphy’s blazing skin, and then quickly to avoid any argument she tugged her friend’s panties down around her knees and returned her left arm around Murphy’s waist.
Murphy shrieked and this time she tried to get up, not out of modesty but out of knowing that meant Jess wasn’t done punishing her. “Come on Jess, please, it fucking hurts and you’ve made your point…”
“Have I?” Jess leaned over and picked up Murphy’s phone, keeping hold of her waist as she placed the item in her friend’s hand. “Send the text, then.”
“Well I can’t do it across your lap,” Murphy snapped, and when the phone was plucked out of her hand she grabbed for it desperately. “Wait wait, give it back, I’m texting,” she begged. Her backside and thighs were burning like hell, even throbbing in some spots. She was pretty sure sitting was going to be shit for the rest of the day.
“You’re clearly not ready,” Jess informed her, placing the phone out of reach. She laid her right hand on Murphy’s ass, feeling the heat of her skin, then raised her arm and brought it down with a resounding slap on one cheek, then repeated it on the other.
Murphy finally lost the battle with tears and they streamed slowly down her cheeks, mostly because she had no other outlet for the physical discomfort, but also a little bit because she knew that Jess was right. Jess was always right; always had been right, but admitting fault was not a trait Murphy inherently possessed. It was hard for her. She hid her face in her hands and sniffled.
Jess heard the sniffle and stifled a gasp, halting her hand mid air and setting it gently on her friend’s ass instead of spanking her again. “You have to know that touching food in a buffet is wrong… it’s not the other customers’ fault there was no Braille menu, Murph. You did it to be an asshole because you’re hurting over Tyson.”
Murphy gave a strangled sob at hearing his name, and again, Jess was right. “I know,” she finally admitted.
“You’re not going to do something so fucking rude again,” Jess informed her. “Understand?”
Murphy sniffled again but dutifully nodded. “I won’t,” she agreed.
“If you go to a buffet, you’re going to let Max help you get your food, do you understand that one too?”
That one bristled against her independence but she slumped to the bed in defeat. “Yes.”
“If you pull a stunt like today again, we’ll be right back here and this will feel like a picnic in the park with vodka shots, clear?”
Murphy couldn’t really imagine it and a shudder raced down her spine, leaving her shaking slightly. “Clear.”
“And while we’re on the subject of you being an asshole, quit being one to Vanessa. I love her and you treat her like garbage.”
That one Murphy had a real excuse for, even if it wasn’t actually Vanessa’s fault. “I just want to make sure she deserves you,” she stuttered out through her tears. “An—anyone who would stay with you after being around me… must be really into you,” she explained.
Jess wasn’t sure whether to melt completely at that explanation or be even more annoyed. But given the fact that Murphy was actually explaining, she was leaning toward melting completely. “Murphy,” she scolded, fighting her own tears. “She passed your test, okay? You can stop now…”
Murphy sniffled and nodded, wiping her eyes with the sheets. “Okay,” she agreed.
“Good,” Jess said, handing Murphy back her phone.
Murphy didn’t hesitate this time, just pressed the home button and when her phone chimed she said, “Text Max. Max comma I’m sorry period. Send.”
Jess blinked at the fact that all Murphy said was “I’m sorry” plus his name, but she should have expected that and it actually was kind of endearing. She took the phone again and set it behind her, then rubbed her hand up and down Murphy’s thighs and over her backside.
Murphy’s gasp was drowned out by her phone chiming. -New text from Max. I mostly had fun-
She allowed a little smile to quirk one corner of her mouth, but it was short lived. Jess had really thrashed her. Though… maybe she had deserved it. Maybe.
“One more thing, Murph,” Jess said, taking a slow breath because this one was going to be met with hellfire and brimstone, she was sure. “You’re going to therapy and I don’t want to hear a word about why you can’t.”
Murphy opened her mouth to issue some sarcastic retort, but Jess’s hand felt so good rubbing her blazing skin and she didn’t want to risk any further punishment, so she snapped it shut. There was no way she could do that, but she wouldn’t argue. For now.
Of course Jess wanted an answer. “Yeah, cool, whatever.” Apparently that was not the answer Jess wanted because Murphy was suddenly being spanked again, and the renewed sensation caught her off guard enough to allow her to burst into tears. She shifted enough to be able to wrap her arms around Jess’s waist and bury her face in her friend’s side. “I’m sorry, Jess, I’m sorry!”
Jess lost her breath for a moment, shocked as shit at Murphy’s reaction, but then forged ahead strong as ever. Now was the time to get a commitment from her friend to stop this destructive cycle. She stopped spanking but kept a hard edge to her voice. “You’re going, Murphy. Starting this week.”
Why wasn’t Jess hugging her back? Oh, she wanted a promise. Murphy was miserable and hurting and wanted Jess to stop being mad at her, and she probably would have agreed to anything. “Okay!” she cried, squeezing Jess’s waist tighter even as her body shook with her tears.
“Okay what?” Jess was not going to give an inch, because Murphy would take ten miles.
“I’ll go!” Murphy sobbed against her side.
“You’ll go where?”
Murphy gave a shuddering whine before finally making the promise. “I’ll go to therapy.”
Jess exhaled sharply, not realizing she’d been holding her breath, and she carefully pulled up Murphy’s underwear before wrapping her arms around her friend. The angle was awkward but she managed to hug her at least somewhat. “Thank you, Murph. I love you to fucking pieces and I’m not gonna let you do this stupid shit anymore.” She squeezed her tighter.
Murphy didn’t say anything else just yet but she nodded, taking comfort in Jess’s arms, hating the fact that she was crying. Especially in front of someone, even if it was Jess. Fuck, she was miserable. I mean, maybe a tiny part of her felt some sort of relief, but mostly she was miserable. Even though Jess had stopped, it still stung and burned and throbbed everywhere her friend had smacked. When she finally collected herself she mumbled into Jess’s side. “I can’t believe you did that.”
Murphy’s voice was muffled but Jess could still understand what she said. “I’ll do it again if you test me,” she said.
“Yeah,” Murphy nodded. “I know.”
Her phone chimed -New text from Max. Hello you just apologize and disappear-
Murphy sniffed and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, unsure what to do now that it seemed to be over. “Can I—can I get that?” she asked, nodding toward the sound of her phone. “I mean is it—are you—done?”
Jess wanted to squish her to bits and tell her how adorable she was being, but Murphy would just close off again and she really didn’t want to have to repeat this experience if she could avoid it. “Yeah, I’m done. Go ahead,” she said, patting her friend’s back and then moving her hands out of the way so Murphy could get up. But strangely, Murph stayed where she was and just reached over to grab the phone. Jess’s eyebrows raised.
“Text Max. Jess was spanking me period. Send.”
Jess tried to grab the phone before Murphy said send but it happened so fast there was no way. “Oh my God. You did not.”
Murphy snickered and waited. She didn’t have to wait long.
Chime. -New text from Max. What is spanning-
Jess had closed her eyes even though that wouldn’t prevent her from hearing the response, but she almost laughed out loud at the autocorrect.
Murphy scowled. “Text Max. Spanking period.”
Jess bit her lip. Autocorrect was going to do the same thing again, she knew.
Chime. -New text from Max. Spanning-
Murphy made a noise of frustration and yelled into the phone. “Text Max! Spanking exclamation point exclamation point exclamation point. She put me across her lap and spanked me exclamation point. Send.”
“Murphy, it’s going to keep saying spanning. Spanking isn’t in the phone’s dictionary.”
“It had no reason to be until today,” Murphy snapped at her.
Chime. -Call from Max.-
“She spanked me. Is that so hard to believe?”
“Well she did. I’m still across her lap in my underwear and my ass hurts like hell.”
“Are you trying to get me hard?”
“Creep!” She hung up.
Jess couldn’t hold it in anymore and she burst out laughing. “What the hell did he say?”
“He thinks it’s hot.”
“He’s a guy.”
“You would say that about guys. You’re such a lesbian.”
Chime. -Call from Max.-
“So she made you apologize?”
“Does that matter?”
“It makes the apology a little less valid, yeah.”
Murphy could practically feel his smirk through the air waves. “Maybe if you come over I’ll give you a better one. Just don’t touch my ass. Or my thighs.”
“Aw, babe, no anal?”
“Go fuck yourself.” She hung up again.
Chime. -New text from Max. See you in ten-
“Is there a reason you’re still across my lap?”
Murphy debated lying but ultimately considering the last half hour she just sighed instead. “It’s… a safe place to be.”
“Murph, that’s just—stop trying to make me melt,” Jess half complained.
“So it’s working?” Murphy asked, perking up with a grin, then hiding her face in Jess’s side again. “Okay, I’m gonna try to get up.”
“I could just slide out from under you,” Jess suggested.
Murphy considered for a second and nodded. “Yeah.”
Jess carefully slid to the left so she could stand up without taking Murphy with her, making sure she didn’t jostle her friend too much in the process. She almost felt bad when she saw the wince on Murphy’s face, and she did feel a little bit bad when Murphy buried her face in the sheets and groaned.
“Ohhhhhh, my God, Jess, it hurts,” Murphy said breathlessly.
“You’ll be okay,” Jess said, leaning down to kiss the back of Murphy’s head. “Just don’t make me do it again, please? Like ever?”
Murphy snorted and picked her head up, hands tightening around the sheets. “Not on my to do list,” she snarked. “Like ever.” She tried to push herself up and gasped at the fresh burning that moving caused. Probably because of the friction of her underwear moving or some shit like that. Whatever it was, it sucked. “Jess, I can barely move,” she whispered, feeling intensely vulnerable all of a sudden. “Help me get up, please…”
“Yeah,” Jess said quickly, wrapping a hand around each of Murphy’s biceps and gently helping her to her feet, where her friend burst into tears again and was hugging her tighter than ever. Now she really felt bad. She hugged Murphy back and held her friend’s head to her chest. “Heyyyy,” she asked, “what’s this?”
“I’m such a dick!” Murphy yelled through her tears. “I don’t deserve you to hug me. I don’t deserve you at all, actually. I’m a terrible person.”
“You are not a terrible person, Murphy Mason,” Jess said sternly. “You are flawed, as we all are. I mean… look what I just did to my best friend.”
“Yeah, out of desperation,” Murphy sighed, her tears slowing down again. She didn’t think she had cried so much in like… ever. “Because I’m such a dick that my best friend literally had to beat my ass.”
“Murphy. You have issues. Like I said, we all do. And today was the first time you actually admitted any of your bullshit, even to me, and stopped blaming everyone else. That’s huge.”
Murphy sniffled. “You really think so?”
Jess wasn’t used to her best friend sounding so insecure. But maybe that was a good thing, because it was genuine. “I really do.”
A pebble hit the window.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Murphy muttered, taking a step toward the window and groaning softly at the burn. She leaned over carefully and shoved it open, sticking her head out. “Use the intercom like a normal person!” she yelled down to Max.
“That’s no fun!” Max yelled back up.
“Whatever, idiot, just come up,” Murphy scowled, backing away from the window. “He’s like… twelve or something.”
“He just really likes you, Murph. Start letting him in.”
Murphy muttered all the way to the front door and opened it, whether Max was up there yet or not.
Max had been about to tease her but he took one look at her tear-streaked face and his own face fell. “Hey, babe,” he said quietly, stepping toward her to wrap his arms around her and pull her close. “Are you okay? I thought you were just messing with me.”
“It really hurts,” Murphy whispered. “It’s like this throbbing, burning inferno everywhere back there.”
“But then… why did you let her do that to you?”
Murphy bit her lip, debating whether to even answer the question, but ultimately forged ahead. Jess did say to start letting him in a little. “Because I knew I deserved it.”
“You did almost break my nose… I only went to help you because you were putting your hands all in the food and being a…”
“A dick. I know. I should’ve just let you get me a plate or tell me what was there, or anything other than what I did. I’m—you know. I’m sorry. Like, really.”
Max exhaled softly and kissed her forehead. “Thank you. And I’m sorry I wasn’t better at figuring out how to help you without you knowing I was helping you.”
“How do you figure you would have accomplished that?” Murphy asked, raising her eyebrows.
“You know, like if I sat down and said wow, look at the buffet, they have mashed potatoes and mac and cheese and blah blah blah…”
Murphy thought on it for a minute and then grinned. “That could’ve worked. Maybe.”
Jess came out of Murphy’s bedroom and leaned on the door frame, waving sheepishly at Max. “Hi Max.”
“Hello, Jess,” Max said with a smirk. “I hear I have you to thank for this sort of… attitude shift? Ow,” he complained when Murphy smacked him in the chest.
“Watch it or we’ll go right back to breaking noses,” Murphy warned, pushing him lightly and turning to head for the kitchen. She knew she was walking stiffly but she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
“Listen, babe, let’s just have a beer and listen to some music or a movie or something,” Max said when he saw the way Murphy was moving.
Murphy stopped halfway to the kitchen and growled. “You don’t wanna fuck me?”
“I always want to fuck you,” Max said dismissively. “But… I don’t want fucking you to make you cry, and you can barely walk.”
“It’s just because I’m not used to being—to having this feeling. There.” She indicated her ass with a gesture of one hand. “My parents never even did that to me. But I’m fine. We can fuck.”
“Babe, seriously. Let’s just hang out and relax.”
“Okay. You can leave,” Murphy said. “Get out.”
Murphy’s head snapped toward the sound of Jess’s voice. Shit. “Forgot you were there.”
“Oh, I’m that easily forgettable?” Jess asked, pushing off the door frame and heading for Murphy, who was still halfway to the kitchen just standing in the middle of the living room.
“Uhh… not what I meant,” Murphy backtracked. “Max, come on, let’s snuggle or whatever.” She held her hands out toward where she knew he was standing. “Come on. Come on come on.”
Max couldn’t help the amusement that danced across his features. “Are you afraid she’s gonna…?”
“Shut up. Just come on.”
“I think I like this arrangement,” Max said with a grin, closing the distance between them and sliding his arms around Murphy, pulling her into a hug.
Murphy growled menacingly and purposely stomped on his foot as she headed for the bedroom.
“Oww,” he complained, limping along after her. She might be small, but she was strong. He mouthed ‘thank you’ to Jess on their way past.
She mouthed ‘you’re welcome’ and went to the kitchen herself for something to eat.