When it's over, when all that's left of the shapeshifter is a hacked-up body on the carpet and blood smears all over her handcrafted Balinese throw, she starts to laugh. A belly-deep, gasping for air, impossible-to-control laugh.
Jo, the girl with the bloodied silver knife, stands there eyeing her warily. "You alright?"
Still retching, she bends over, sucking down deep breaths. There's nothing to say. What do you say when you've been held captive for twenty-four hours by the doppelganger of your roommate and your life turns on a dime?
She looks around and takes in the destruction – furniture upended, picture frames shattered, book shelves torn down. She thinks about how there's a body stashed in the second-floor supply closet, Hannah's body; about how she'll never be able to climb the stairwell without thinking about flaring eyes and dying alone. Maybe tomorrow she'll be able to think about how totally kickass she was today, how troll! in the dungeons it was of her in coming back to help kill the monster and save a girl she'd barely just met. But right now, she's standing in an apartment that was hers up until yesterday, and all she can think as she turns back to Jo, the girl with the bloodied silver knife, is:
"I could really go for some fucking onion rings right now."
Jo looks at her closely, eyes searching. Then, without a word, Jo wipes the apartment down, they get in the car, and drive.
They hotwire a beat-up little Honda, and Jo drives, only because her hands weren't shaking too much to close around the wheel. For all that she's a tiny person, Jo looks cramped and hunched up in the bucket seat, and the way she drives is reckless and brazen, with zero awareness of fuel economy; she pictures Jo instead in a rusty pick-up with clunky gears, a roaring engine and wide vinyl bench, and decides that fits better. No doubt about it, Jo is country.
As they fly down the highway, midnight fast approaching and Newark disappearing in the rear view, the hyper rush of adrenaline in her blood has slowed to a creeping pit of nausea in her stomach. This is either the longest drive to pick up some onion rings, or she's being whisked away from the only life she's ever known, with someone who was a stranger less than twenty-four hours ago.
Instead of freaking out, she watches Jo relax against the seat, take one hand off the wheel and slide her elbow up to hang out the rolled-down window. Something in the way Jo arranges herself makes her think Jo thrives on movement and speed; hates being stationary because it reminds her of when she was held back, left behind, stuffed inside a costume that wouldn't fit.
Jo's legs spread open in a sprawl of tight, faded denim that catches her eye and warms her over. It's been a long day, but that doesn't excuse the fact that she suddenly, desperately wants to be in the space between.
Jo catches her looking and flicks her a grin: half-feral, electric, and hot. The car accelerates, lurching them forward in their seats as they eat up and spit out asphalt even faster than before. Jo whoops and it's infectious: the matching, manic grin on her face, the sweeping pull in her groin and the highway passing on, and on, and on.
They don't talk much at all, not until somewhere around the West Virginia border, when it's almost light and Jo says:
"You know we left Breanna Harper behind in Newark, right?"
It makes her start. Breanna Harper – that's her name, that's her, she's right here, sitting in the car. It's not like she'll never go back, never go home –
"Cops got clear picture of you downtown shelling out for a Glock-17 – "
Jo blinks. "A what? A handgun, geez. Could you be any greener?"
She opens her mouth to reply, but Jo powers on.
"Don't answer that. I don't wanna know how badass you think watching Xena: Warrior Princess on repeat makes you. I saw the figurines," Jo says with a gentle smirk, letting her know she's not being mocked completely mercilessly. "Anyway, the shifter did some real damage in your skin. Cops have footage of you buying the gun, plus there's at least half a dozen witnesses who saw the shoot-up at the gas station. Won't be long before they identify the bullets and grab the torch and pitchforks. You'll be behind bars for the rest of your life, sweetheart."
She feels her breath coming short. I'm not a murderer. My name is Breanna Harper and I'm a 23-year-old gamer from Delaware and this is not my life.
Jo's arm stretches out and grips her hand. "You know all this already. You knew it before you left. That's why you came with me." It's a rough grip, not at all delicate, and it anchors her. "You can't go back," Jo says sadly. "You're one of us now."
Her body sags down against the seat, feeling the cracks of grief threaten to spill down her cheeks. There's very little comfort out here, but the way Jo doesn't let go of her hand? Well, that doesn't hurt.
A little while later, she sniffs. "They weren't figurines," she says petulantly, staring out the window. "I had a chakram replica. Which you wouldn't know was from Xena if you hadn't seen the show before."
"Hey, I never said I hadn't watched the show before," Jo snorts a laugh. "Plus, that Xena and Gabrielle girl-on-girl stuff?" She wets her lips and lets out a sweet little moan, looking at her from under thick eyelashes. "Totally smoking."
She shivers. Breanna Harper might have spent her early twenties hopping around on the Kinsey scale, but whoever she is now stands very little chance against Jo, the girl with the bloodied silver knife.
They spend two nights in a motel a hundred miles outside of Indianapolis, eating and sleeping and watching terrible daytime TV. She decides to become a vegetarian, figures now is as good a time as any. It's kind of fun watching Jo clutch at non-existent pearls and rant at length about blasphemy as she picks the pepperoni off the pizza, but that's just an added bonus.
On the second night, she's about ready to combust from cabin fever. Being on lockdown is totally un-Thelma and Louise, and she plans to make Jo aware of this fact as soon as she comes back from her supply run.
Except when Jo comes back, she's tangled up in about a dozen overladen shopping bags, panting and scowling as she trips across the threshold. "I need a drink," she announces, dumping the bags on the nearest bed.
"What, did you buy the whole town?"
Jo pulls back from the bottle of whiskey and winces. "Shut up and take your clothes off," she growls.
"Uh," she says, feeling her heart speed up. She watches as Jo tips out the contents of the bags, and a waterfall of brightly-colored clothes cascade onto the bed. Suddenly, the pieces click, and she works hard to suppress the sliver of disappointment. "Oh," she says faux-brightly, walking over to inspect. "You bought me a new wardrobe."
"Feel free to lavish praise and thanks."
"You bought me a fugly new wardrobe," she says. She pulls out a mustard blazer in one hand, and a pair of electric blue jeans in the other, and shakes them at Jo. "I can't wear this!"
Jo collapses on the other bed, her bed, and tosses back another shot. "You're disappearing. You need a new style. Besides, I thought seventies-chic would be totally fitting for a little Charlie's Angels-wannabe like you. Here," she says, sitting up, "pass me the brown paper bag."
Rummaging through the vomit-inducing pile (as if she wasn't socially-challenged enough), she spies the bag, and follows Jo as she spins and heads into the bathroom, dragging a chair behind her.
"Sit," Jo orders, upending the bag and turning on the water at the sink. She spins and holds up two small boxes, smirking with glee. "What do you think, Black Magic or Red Penny?"
"Oh, no. No. No no no no no."
"Red Penny, right? I totally agree. Good choice."
Which is how she ends up, forty minutes later, head tipped backwards, a towel gripped tight around her shoulders and fluorescent red color dye in her hair.
She frowns and examines the box. "How permanent is this again, exactly?"
Jo ignores her, intent on undoing the ridiculous plastic strapping from around her ears.
"I mean, it's just. I thought I'd have mousy brown hair forever, you know? Hermione had brown hair, though hers was bushier, and – "
"Stop talking." Jo huffs, annoyed. "I can't quite reach – " She dances around to the other side. "I need to – hold still."
She watches almost from outside herself as Jo swings a leg up and over the chair, her eyes widening as Jo sinks down so their faces are inches apart and she's straddling her thighs.
Pushing their hips right up flush together, and jesusmotherfucking there's no way on earth she comes out of this with her dignity intact.
Jo leans over into the bath and picks up the shower hose. "Lean back," she says softly, and her breath fans out liquor-sweet and warm between them. "Gotta rinse it out now."
"Right," she says weakly, closing her eyes and doing as she's told.
Jo's palms are soft where they cup around her face, shielding her eyes from the spray of the hose, and it's sort of surprising, but then again not really. I'm a hunter, Jo had said in the car that first night, matter-of-fact and a little proud, and that means knowing the strength of your hands. It's nice, too, and she begins to relax, slumping down a little into the chair as the warm water washes over her and Jo's fingers card gently through her hair, massaging out the color.
Minutes pass by in silence, steam filling the room and making the air slow and heavy and molasses-thick. Every little touch from Jo makes her want more, back arching to chase after the firm press of fingers into her scalp and nails digging in behind her ears. It's hard to stay still, and impossible to keep her mouth shut - the quiet moans puncturing the steady drain of water into the bath are coming from her, she realises distantly, her open and wanting mouth. She doesn't care enough to stop, though.
She doesn't remember spreading her legs, settling her hands against Jo's hips, but at some point she must have, because now she can feel a direct press of heat against her cunt. A heat that's moving, pushing, grinding, she thinks, digging in her nails to encourage the pressure, when she suddenly recognizing it for what it is.
Her eyes fly wide open.
Jo's looking down at her, eyes dark and chest heaving, shower hose forgotten at the bottom of the bath. For motionless moments, they stare at one another, still pressed up close and hot beneath their clothes, coming back to themselves.
"You want – ?" Jo breathes, her eyes searching, before hesitating and dropping away.
And she – she doesn't know how, but suddenly she's surging forward and kissing Jo fiercely. "I want."
They tumble onto the bed in record time, clothes strung near and far across the room. She kisses down Jo's body, hungering for every last inch of skin and never feeling satisfied until she's pressed nose-deep in the hot slick of her cunt. She eats Jo out like she's starving, fucking in her tongue and fingers and swallowing everything down. It's been a long time, and she's only done this a couple of times before, but Jo shrieks and sobs, bites at her own wrist and tugs at her hair and curses like a sailor, and that sends a wet rush of pride and arousal down between her legs.
After a while, Jo flips her to return the favor, and for five minutes it's all she can do to weight her hips down to the mattress and not buck up and fuck Jo's face.
Jo sits up and straddles one of her thighs, lining up their cunts so they're flush together. Her mouth is shiny and grin-split wide. "Give me a name."
"What?" she says, dazed.
"Give me a name I can scream out."
Oh God, she thinks, clamping her eyes shut so she won't come. She scrambles, trying to think of something - anything - to say,
--a little Charlie's Angels-wannabe like you--
"Charlie," she blurts, and hopes desperately that Jo won't laugh.
Jo stops, considering. Then slowly, incrementally, her hips start to rock.
Charlie, she thinks later, when they're dozing curled up together. It feels good. It feels right.
Hi, my name is Charlie.
"Where are you taking me anyhow?" Charlie asks the next morning when they pile back into the Honda.
Jo slides on her shades and turns the ignition. "I'm taking you to see a friend of mine, Ash. He'll fix you up with an I.D. trail. He's the best in the business."
"There's a fake-identity making business?"
"Boy, you got a lot to learn, sweetheart," Jo leans over and kisses her, dirty and fast, and peels back out onto the highway.
Charlie doesn't mention that she could probably crack the CIA's firewalls faster than this Ash could hack the DMV. "So we're going on a roadtrip, is that what you're saying? I've never been on a roadtrip before."
Jo scowls. "No, we're not going on a fucking roadtrip. Roadtrips are for douchebags and sorority girls on spring break."
Charlie rolls her eyes and smiles, because, despite what Jo says, they are totally going on a roadtrip.