(impromptu beta read by the lovely Deniz Pekin)
“Are you sure she’s from there?” Artemis looked at the secretary. She needed to make sure that the girl was really from the same place as Artemis herself.
“We’re sure,” the secretary said in a squeaky voice, “we found a… chip in her neck.” As if unwilling, the secretary’s gaze dropped to rest on Artemis’ neck.
“There is no chip in my neck,” Artemis said in a dark voice and resisted the urge to itch the small scar where the chip had once been. She had dug it out with her own knife before she was old enough to have a period. The secretary was almost offending her by looking at it that way. What defined Artemis was not her past, not the facility where she had been raised or the experiments that had been done on her as a child. She was more than those fucking scientists had wanted her to be.
“Of course,” the secretary said, “I’m sorry.” She lowered her gaze to her computer screen again. Good, Artemis wanted to say, keep your gaze where it belongs.
“Just open the door,” she said instead, “and leave us alone until I call for you.”
The secretary nodded, seemingly bobbing her head up and down out of nervousness as much as an affirmative answer. She pressed a button on top of her desk and the doors behind her buzzed, signaling that they were now possible to open. Artemis didn’t give the secretary another look but instead went passed the desk and through the doors behind her.
She had worked for the Concord of Humanoids for about three years now, but it was the first time she had ever gone to their holding cells in the capital. Usually she worked on the field, teaching groups of young recruits eager to join the good fight against the Others or other malificient groups. Like the ones who had raised Artemis. And the girl in the cell.
Artemis had thought that she was the only survivor, the only survivor to fight through the mess of burning metal and dying people to come up something other than human. For years she had honestly believed that. But that was no longer the case. The Concord had sent out reports of finding another girl who was covered in similar scars and behaved in a similar fashion. Artemis couldn’t imagine how it had been for the girl to get captured again, to have sweet freedom out of reach once more. Artemis would rather die than be imprisoned, she asumed that the girl in the cell felt the same way.
She entered the cell and looked around. At first it seemed empty but then she noticed a small figure sitting in one of the corners. She was hugging her knees tightly and hiding her face so all Artemis could see was long black hair and two arms covered with a criss cross of furious, red scars. Artemis had similar scars all over her body, but she had done her best to make them fade into the background by covering herself with tattoos instead.
“Hello,” she said and took two steps towards the girl.
“Hi.” Came a muffled sound from behind the knees, then she lifted her head to look at Artemis. She was mainly human, that was clear from the two nostrils, two eyes and very human mouth. But her skin was too white to be human and her eyes were bright purple. She was part something else, but what Artemis didn’t care what. The moment their eyes met, the girl whimpered and looked like she tried to get even further away, she hit her back against the wall again and again.
“No, please,” she begged, “don’t hurt me. Please, please, please, don’t kill me.”
Artemis dropped to a halt.
“What?” she asked, “I’m not going to hurt you, wha-”
“One,” she whispered, “You’re number one. Please don’t kill me.”
So it was true. The girl was from the same facility, and she was old enough to have remembered who Artemis was back then. Number one. The glorious killing machine. She sighed.
“I’m not going to kill you,” she said in a calm voice even though she was shaking inside, “I’m not number one anymore.” Coming there had been a mistake, she wasn’t ready to meet someone from her past. She wasn’t ready to have that terrible title thrown her way. She was Artemis now. No one else.
The girl looked up, blinking her eyes at her, they were stained with tears that made them look more blue than purple. Almost human.
“Why are you here then?” She asked, “if not to kill me.”
“I thought I was the only one,” Artemis replied, “the only survivor. When I found out I wasn’t, I got curious.”
“You’re not,” the girl replied, “at least I think you’re not the only one. It depends on if I’m dead or not.”
“If you have a pulse you’re alive,” Artemis said, she knew the feeling of being unsure so well. It was her own mantra. As long as I have a pulse I am still not dead. As long as I have a pulse I can breathe and I will live. As long as I have a pulse I still haven’t lost.
“If you say so,” the girl replied. She dried her face with the hem of her skirt. She didn’t look convinced.
“Why don’t you tell me your name,” Artemis tried, “and come and sit over here.” She patted a chair by a table in the middle of the room and then sat down on the other one.
“I don’t have a name,” the girl said and got up from the floor, “but sometimes I call myself Orleanna.”
“Orleanna,” Artemis repeated, “come and sit here, Orleanna.” It was killing Artemis to be this patient, but she tried to remind herself of how she had been just a few years back. Of that dark, dead place inside your own brain that was so eager to keep you prisoner. She would have still been there if it hadn’t been for patient friends, other helpful people and finally the job she had now. Artemis was now her own person, but Orleanna wasn’t Orleanna. Not really. Not yet.
Orleanna moved like a lizard, fluidly pulling herself from the floor and onto the chair. Maybe she was related to one of the Squamatid species, it wasn’t impossible, just very uncommon.
“I want to take off my clothes,” Orleanna said.
“Not like that,” Orleanna continued in a low voice, a blush spreading over her cheek. It was purple, not red. “I want to show you my scars, from needles and scalpels. We could compare.”
“I…” Artemis didn’t know how to reply, “we won’t be doing that.”
“I know,” Orleanna said, “I just said that I want to. I want my childhood confirmed. I want to know that it really happened. That I didn’t make it up. I want to know if it’s possible to forget. If it’s possible to… stop being like this.” She pinched a protuding scar on her right arm.
“It is,” Artemis said, “but it takes time. A lot of time. And maybe a lot of tattoos.”
“Are they to cover up your scars?” Orleanna asked, reaching out as if to touch the black nightingale on Artemis’ neck. Artemis didn’t let her and instead leaned back to be out of reach. She wished she could let Orleanna touch the tattoo if she needed, but she hated being touched. She probably always would.
“You remember me?” She asked instead, wanting the conversation to continue forward. Orleanna nodded.
“I was the little kid,” she said, “ or I think I was. The other girls used to carry me around a lot.” In a display of great speed she reached forward and grabbed hold of Artemis’ arm and pulled the hand to her face as if to investigate it. Her touch was warm and her fingers small but Artemis didn’t like it. She should have worn gloves. She let Orleanna continue tracing the tattoos, she wasn’t going to pull her hand away now. Not when Orleanna was finally talking.
“Everyone knew who you were,” she continued, “I used to listen to my sisters telling stories about how the dreaded number one would kill us all. She was insane. A monster. Totally psycho. Some kids believed that you weren’t a kid anymore, that you were a robot. A machine.” She started sobbing. “You killed my sisters. I saw you.”
Artemis swallowed and did her best to not pull her hand back.
“They made me,” she said slowly, trying to retell the facts without getting at all emotional about it. They were just facts. They couldn’t hurt her anymore. “I don’t know how much you know, but I’m sure they did to you what they did to me. They shocked me if I didn’t attack the others, drugged me when I did. I was conditioned to kill, to do it often and to enjoy it a lot.”
Orleanna didn’t look up, but she sighed and started tracing the words Artemis had tattooed on her index finger. It’s better to forget.
“They didn’t do that to me,” she said after a little while, “I was probably too young to fight. They just performed experiments on me instead.” She laughed. “It’s probably for the best though. If I had been put in the ring against you I wouldn’t be here now.”
“Probably not,” Artemis agreed, but she felt uncomfortable saying it out loud. There was a reason they were both there now. Artemis had never lost a fight and Orleanna had never fought. It was true that Artemis still loved the fight, the conditioning run deep in her. It didn’t matter that there were no longer any chemicals in her bloodstream. She still felt high when killing an enemy, or even at the idea of killing. She hated it. At least she no longer killed with kicks, fists and teeth. She was no longer an animal, rather she now killed with a weapon like all sophisticated folks.
“What happened after the facility fell?” Artemis asked.
Orleanna dropped her hand and looked up.
“I was so young,” she said, “and the world is cruel to an unwanted child.”
“I know,” Artemis replied, “the world is cruel to everyone, but especially unwanted children.”
“I learned to live,” Orleanna continued, “prostitution at times. Stealing most of the time. Being hungry always. For a while I even wished that… I even wished that I was still there.”
Artemis pulled away, not in a million years could she imagine wishing to be back there. But then she remembered again, the facts. You should never forget facts. Artemis had been 12 when the facility broke down, Orleanna closer to five or six. It was no wonder that Orleanna had partly remembered the facility as something good, something comforting. The only home she had ever had.
“You’re beautiful,” Orleanna said suddenly, her eyes looking at Artemis eagerly, “you’re so beautiful, and real. You don’t look broken.” She flew up from the chair like it had burnt her. She put her hands to her eyes. “If we keep talking I’ll break you again. You are free from that place. But I’m not, I’ll never be, I’m…”
An alarm sounded. Orleanna turned quiet and looked up, her eyes so wide they are were more white than purple.
“Wait here,” Artemis said and got up. She went to the door, opened it and put her head out. She found the secretary, gathering her things in a panicked manner.
“What’s happening?” Artemis yelled at her.
“The others!” she said, “they hit our borders an hour ago, I thought we had more time…”
“Fuck!” Artemis said, “what about Orleanna?”
“Her, in the room,” Artemis yelled, “what is to become of her?”
“What do you mean?” The secretary said, “do what you want with her! I’m leaving now!” She grabbed her things and ran through the exit.
“Fuck!” Artemis returned into the room. Orleanna was sitting on the table with her hands pressed against her ears.
“Come on,” Artemis called and waved her hand, “you’re coming with me.” She had taken out her gun and Orleanna’s eyes were drawn to it.
“Don’t worry,” Artemis continued, “I won’t hurt you.”
“It’s like before,” Orleanna said, “children’s screams echoing against aluminium and steel.”
“Orleanna! Come on!”
Orleanna eventually stood up but she looked at Artemis as if she’d seen a ghost.
“I wasn’t scared at first,” she said, “not until I heard that number one was loose. I thought you were coming to kill me.”
Artemis felt something break inside her but she couldn’t stop long enough to check if it was just her heart or her very soul. She just felt lucky that Orleanna didn’t seem scared of her.
“Come on,” she said, her voice calmer now, “we need to go.”
Orleanna finally came to the door.
“I saw you,” she said, her voice thick with unshed tears, “you were bleeding from your mouth.”
Artemis had heard enough, she grabbed Orleanna’s hand and pulled her through the door. They ran through the corridor hand in hand as the alarm continued sounding through the building. Artemis had her gun out and she was ready to shoot her way through any barricade but she also knew that she didn’t stand a chance against a horde of Others. Not even she was that good. But she wasn’t just good at fighting, she was good at escaping too.
* * *
They were hiding under the city, in something that resemlbed a bunker with holes on the ceiling. It was abandoned now and the perfect hiding spot. Above them Others were still going through the city, looking for what Artemis didn’t know. She was eager to get out and get back to the university and her students but for now it was better that they waited. Orleanna was sitting curled up on the bed, a blanket covering her narrow shoulders. She looked small. Like she was still the little child that had once escped.
Artemis stopped listening by the entrance and went to sit down next to Orleanna instead.
“How did you choose your name?” She asked.
“I read it in a book,” Orleanna said, “a very sad book. Thought it fit. How about yours?”
“The first letter of the alphabet is A,” Artemis replied, “I looked through a list of names starting with A and chose my favourite one.”
“I like it better than your old name,” Orleanna said, “when there was alarm. Before. When they came. It reminded me of last time.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Artemis said.
“It’s no problem,” Orleanna replied, “you came towards me like something from my nightmares. The monster child. But your eyes were uncertain. It’s like I was dealing with a trapped animal.”
“Don’t talk about me that way,” Artemis said, “I’m not her anymore. I don’t want to think about her.”
Orleanna moved forward and to the side so she could look right into Artemis’ eyes.
“Of course you are,” she said, seeminly surprised that Artemis could think anything different, “you might think that you’re not but you’re still you. You still carry all of that inside. She’s still inside you.” Artemis didn’t know what to say to that. She sighed.
“Should we try to sleep?” She suggested instead, “I doubt we’re going to get out of here for a couple of hours anyway.”
Since there was only one cot in the room, they laid down together. Orleanna pulled the blanket over both their legs. Then she turned to the side and, against Artemis’ will, curled up against Artemis’ back and hugged her in the process. It was strange being touched outside of a fight. It was also different than a hug from a friend. Artemis didn’t know if it was worse of better. Perhaps just different. She stayed with her eyes on the entrance and Orleanna behind her, against the wall. And she didn’t move her arm. It felt good. Right. Like Orleanna was hers to protect and take care of. Maybe it was like Orleanna said, maybe number one was still alive inside of her. And she recognized this as her retribution.
* * *
It was a few hours later when Orleanna sat up with a gasp. She couldn’t remember where she was. But then she noticed the sleeping Artemis next to her, she remembered. Then the sound that had woken her up sounded again and she gasped.
“Lie back down,” Artemis said even though she hadn’t opened her eyes, “we’re right above power lines, sometimes they make that noise.”
Orleanna felt a firm grip on her shoulder and Artemis tried to pull her backwards. She didn’t manage though, Orleanna didn’t want to lie back down. Artemis eventually gave up and instead her thumb started caressing the ball of her shoulder. It was comforting. When Orleanna felt her heart beat slow down and her breathing even, the hand moved and started running its fingers up and down her neck. It was strange. In the darkness the hand could have belonged to anyone, a comforting stranger, a dream. Orleanna hadn’t enjoyed the more… adult parts of growing up. And the feelings that this wandering hand created in her were foreign. She wanted to pull away but instead she whimpered. The hand stopped.
“I’m sorry,” Artemis whispered, “I don’t know what came over me, I…”
Orleanna turned around, grasping for Artemis’s hand. When she found it, she put it on her neck again. She just needed it to stay there a little bit longer, give her enough time to decide if she liked the sensation or not.
“No, it’s fine,” she said. The hand on her neck quivered as if unsure so Orleanna reached up to open the fingers and press the palm against the pulse point in her neck. Artemis’ hand was so cold it made shivers run down Orleanna’s spine but it wasn’t all unpleasant.
When the hand moved down to trace the clear outline of Orleanna’s collarbone, Artemis let out a shaking breath and Orleanna matched it with one of her own. It was strange being touched. Strange and pleasant and Orleanna was eager to feel more of it.
“Make me stop,” Artemis said, “tell me to stop and I will.”
“I like it,” Orleanna said. It was the first thing in years that didn’t hurt her in one way or another, “I don’t want you to stop.” She wanted to turn around and discover Artemis’ body too, she wanted to compare and contrast their scars. Share their experience on the most primal level.
“I don’t like girls that way,” Artemis said. Her voice sounded strained as she pulled the overly stretched elastic band of Orleanna’s shirt down and let her hand cup a small breast, “I… don’t.”
“It’s okay,” she said, “it’s okay to want contact. Don’t be scared.” Her own voice was sounding far away and a buzzing in her ears was drowning everything else. Artemis’ hand twitched and Orleanna feared that the older woman would freak out and retreat. She tried to slow them down and put her hand on top of the one on her breast. Artemis released a sound that sounded suspiciously like a sob, but then she muttered something and leaned forward. Orleanna knew what was about to happen and yet when Artemis’ lips touched hers, she was so surprised at the sensation that she pulled away with a whimper.
“What’s wrong?” Artemis asked, her voice a bit throaty.
“I’ve never kissed anyone else before,” Orleanna replied, “it’s lame.”
Artemis made another noise that sounded like something mixed between a sob and chuckle.
“It’s not lame exactly,” she said, “kind of sad though. Do you want to try again?” Orleanna nodded but then she realised that Artemis couldn’t see her face so she answered verbally instead.
They met halfway, and Orleanna tentatively pressed her lips against Artemis’. The result was disastrous, Orleanna knew that it was her fault and tried to follow Artemis’ lead but it was hard. When they drifted apart, Orleanna felt more mortified than aroused.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean for it to be so… so…”
“It’s okay,” Artemis said, “it’s rare to have your first kiss be perfect.”
“It would have been nice to have something go my way,” Orleanna said. They were silent for half a minute and then both burst out laughing. Artemis gave Orleanna’s breast one last gentle squeeze and then removed her hand.
“Should we try to sleep?” She asked. Orleanna smiled as Artemis leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
“I suppose that would be for the best,” she said even though she didn’t want to. Her skin felt sensitive and the clothes felt restricting. The powerlines underneath them were still making noises as well and Orleanna didn’t think she would be able to fall asleep at all.
They laid back down together, hugging each other with one of Orleanna’s legs lying across Artemis’ legs. Orleanna found that when they were lying so close to each other, her ear pressed against Artemis’ beating heart, the rift in her own heart felt a little bit easier to bear. Like something that had been wrong for a very long time was finally righting itself. She couldn’t stay still, she needed to move. She needed to touch.
“I can’t sleep.”
“Just try,” Artemis said, moving her hand to start stroking up and down the length of Orleanna’s arm. But instead of soothing, it imflamed and created goosebumps. Orleanna shivered in the cool air.
“Are you ever scared when going into a fight?”
“No, I don’t think about it,” Artemis said, her voice making Orleanna feel better. “When I go into a fight, I go into it the same way I go into anything. I come out alive. And then it’s done.”
“Do you like it?”
“You know I do,” Artemis replied, “I wish I could say something else, but that is the truth. You know what, when we’re out of here I’ll teach you some self defence. Might be useful.”
“If you say so,” Orleanna said.
They were quiet for a little while longer but neither for them seemed ready to sleep. Artemis looked like she was ready for battle right now, her voice had been calm but her muscles were tense. Orleanna wanted her to relax.
“What are you?” Artemis said after a little while, “I don’t mean it as an insult, it’s just clear you’re not completely human.”
Orleanna laughed, she didn’t mind the question at all.
“I’m not sure,” she said, “probably a complete mix. You should see my toes, they’re green.”
“Green,” Orleanna continued, “and my heart is on the wrong side. I mean, not wrong, just… wrong for being human.”
“And your skin is so pale,” Artemis said and touched her knuckles to Orleanna’s arm. They both let out shaky breaths in unison.
“Why do you affect me so?” The question was barely a whisper but Orleanna didn’t ask Artemis to repeat it. She had heard it, and she had no answer, only guesses.
* * *
They had stayed like that until dawn. Not sleeping, not moving and no more talking. When light seeped through the holes in the ceiling and showed that dawn had come, Artemis was completely exhausted but also more awake than she had ever been. She was also feeling very stiff, she needed desperately to stretch but didn’t in case she bumped into Orleanna accidently. That was dangerous territory. Dangerous and very confusing.
“Artemis,” said a small voice. It sounded like a prayer and it made Artemis breathless.
“Would you like to kiss me?”
Artemis sighed, both desperate and terrified. She didn’t know the answer to the question. No. Yes. Maybe. Yes, please. No, no, no, no… She tried to remind herself that she didn’t like touch. At all. Sure she’d had lovers before but it had never been good. It had been like a different type of fight and she’d never kissed. Not someone like Orleanna anyway. She clenched her fists so hard it hurt. She couldn’t remember being this scared since childhood.
“There is nothing for you here,” she whispered back eventually, “I have nothing to offer you. No great answers. And no… no… You know who I am. I’m number one.” She wanted to cry, because that was the truth of it. It didn’t matter how she tried to get away from her past. It didn’t matter how she pretended and grew and became a different person. Nothing mattered. She could never unarm herself. She would always be number one, the memories and abilities were always there, under her skin. Just waiting to come out and play if she let them. She felt skin and blood under her teeth and wailed. It hurt. It hurt more than anything.
But then Orleanna was there, with lips soft as rose petals kissing her cheeks, her nose, her ears and eyelids before landing on her lips. Artemis drowned. She clenched the mattress underneath not trusting herself to not do something rash if she moved. She felt a sudden hand making its way to place itself on the stomach. Orleanna’s hand. It was wrong, so very wrong. Orleanna broke the kiss but before moving away from Artemis’ face, she diligently kissed next to and underneath Artemis’ eyes. It only took a moment for Artemis to realise that Orleanna was kissing away her tears.
“I want you to touch me,” she said when she moved back, “I want to show you my scars.”
“We can’t,” Artemis said, “we… I’m… You’re not like me. You don’t have to be like me, please don’t… Not all the scars in the world could make you like me. You’re…” As she said the words, Artemis knew that if Orleanna pushed, she would give in. She would do anything, anything that Orleanna wanted.
“I won’t become like you,” Orleanna said, “let me heal you.” Whatever that meant, Artemis didn’t know, but her defences crumbled as Orleanna leaned in again. Their lips met in a delicate dance and Artemis was covered in Orleanna’s black hair. It smelled like the sea, which was fitting since Artemis was drowning. She couldn’t help it anymore. She deepened the kiss and when their tongues met for the first time, she really thought that she might die. It was too much and she wasn’t sure if her heart could take it. It was at least going to beat out of her chest and what she would do then, she didn’t know.
Orleanna pulled away.
“Let me see your scars,” she said, her voice was breathless and her purple eyes shone with emotion. She was so beautiful, Artemis didn’t know how she hadn’t been able to see it the moment she had walked into the holding cell. She couldn’t do anything but obey. Submit. She sat up and pulled her clothes off. With nothing on she fell down on the bed again. In the same time, Orleanna had pulled off her clothes too. Artemis couldn’t help but look in wonder. It wasn’t about the scars which Orleanna of course had plenty, about three scars placed over every major organ. But Artemis was staring at proof over Orleanna’s strange parentage. Some parts of her were human, but her nipples were the same shade of purple as her eyes and around her hips there were big rings of green that matched her toes. What are you? Artemis wanted to say again, but then Orleanna leaned forward and when their lips met one more time, Artemis forgot everything else. She let one of her hands tentiatively fall on Orleanna’s hip.
“I thought you didn’t like girls like that,” Orleanna said when they pulled away again, needing to breathe. She was smiling, teasing. Artemis wanted to nip at her lips.
“I suppose I was wrong,” she said and felt herself blush. She let her thumb caress the skin on Orleanna’s hip and wondered why she had never tried this before. Orleanna’s skin was so soft. How she had managed to live almost 30 years without knowing this, without knowing the taste of Orleanna’s lips or the feel of her, Artemis didn’t know. Her skin. Her scent. Artemis inhaled, her nostrils flaring. Suddenly she needed more, she had to have more, she couldn’t have enough of Orleanna.
She crashed their bodies together and attacked her mouth again, ferociously this time. But Orleanna was having none of it, with a hand to Artemis’ shoulder she pushed her back.
“Easy, easy,” she said.
“Oh gods, I’m sorry,” Artemis said, “I got carried away, I shouldn’t have, I…” Orleanna must have seen the panic on her face cause she shook her head.
“Lie on your back,” she said and smiled a small smile when Artemis did so, right away. “Good girl,” she said then, making Artemis feel both silly and excited in the same time. “I told you, I want to see your scars.”
“They’re covered,” Artemis redundatly said, after all her body was covered from tip to toe in tattoos. Orleanna could see that for herself.
“No, they are still there,” Orleanna said, “if you look hard enough.”
It wasn’t the answer Artemis wanted to hear, it made her skin crawl. She didn’t want them to still be there, she wanted them gone. And she didn’t want Orleanna to point them out. It was making her feel too much.
It was worse when Orleanna started tracing the scars with her fingertips. It burnt her, hurt her, Artemis wanted to cry. She tried to lie still and let Orleanna play because as much as it hurt her she also didn’t want it to stop. It was good, necessary. Artemis knew that as much as it hurt now, as much as it unsettled her after this she would be reborn. After this, it would be over. Truly over. Orleanna would set her free. The high would be worth the pain.
She wanted to cry when Orleanna leaned forward and started tracing the scars with her tongue. She nibbled on the biggest one that zigzagged its way down Artemis’ chest. And then suddenly she changed method and instead her lips closed around one of Artemis’ nipples.
“Orleanna!” Artemis gasped, “oh what, oh, oh oh.” Orleanna’s tongue curled around her nipple and applied some teeth as well. An unfamiliar burning started low in Artemis’ abdomen.
“Please,” she whimpered, but she no longer knew what she was asking for. She knew that they were working towards something powerful but she didn’t know what. Orleanna was unpredictable. Artemis’ body was on fire, her skin was hyper sensitive and her heart was fluttering like a trapped bird within her rib cage.
“What… what…” Artemis whimpered when Orleanna equally sudden left her nipple and quickly kissed, bit and licked her way down to the curls between Artemis’ legs. She nuzzled the hair there. Artemis wanted to lift her head and look at Orleanna but she couldn’t move. She closed her eyes, gasping for air. She knew she was embarrassingly wet and very close to loosing control.
Orleanna pressed a quick kiss on top of the curls there and then she spread Artemis’ legs. Before Artemis could say or do anything, Orleanna had settled in to feast. She licked once, licked twice and then she curled her lips around Artemis’ clit. It was all it took.
“Oh fuck,” Artemis cried out and arched her back. Her body didn’t hurt anymore, it came alive and all the scars on her body shone red in the dim light. She was just getting down from her high when Orleanna without a warning put two fingers to her entrance and pushed inside. Artemis came again, her muscles clenching around Orleanna’s fingers, her whole body thrumming.
When the tremors started residing, Artemis felt exhausted and relieved. Nothing hurt anymore, she felt raw but it was good. She was okay. She was alive. Everything was okay.
Orleanna came up from her place between Artemis’ legs and laid down next to her. They looked at each other a bit awkwardly. At least Artemis felt awkward, Orleanna looked perfectly at home. She laid down and rested her head on Artemis’ naked shoulder.
“Thank you,” Artemis said after a little while, “I didn’t know I needed that.” She felt Orleanna smile against her skin.
“You were beautiful,” she said.
“And you were wonderful,” Artemis replied, a nagging voice in her head made her continue talking, “do you… umm… should I…” She wanted to do the same for Orleanna, really she did. She wanted to see if she could do the same. If she could make her come apart using her fingers and her mouth. She wanted Orleanna underneath her, trembling, weak, receptive… Artemis was overcome with a new wave of arousal, no longer unfamiliar and she took a deep breath.
“Don’t worry,” Orleanna said as if having read her mind, “we have all the time in the world. But first I think we need to leave, don’t you?” Her hand came to cradle one of Artemis’ breasts and she gave it a small squeeze.
“You are right,” Artemis said, “we should get going. The others tend to sleep early in the day so this is probably the right time leave.”
They got up and got dressed. The world seemed different somehow. New. Artemis couldn’t help but smile as she observed the girl next to her. The world was new thanks to her. That was the truth.
“Where are we going to go?”
“We get out town and walk south,” Artemis said, “I work at a university in the south.”
“So you’re going to teach,” Orleanna said, “what am I to do?”
“We’ll find a job for you,” Artemis said, “there is lots to do. We’re at war after all.”
“I’m happy to come with you,” Orleanna said as she pulled her fingers through her hair. It didn’t matter that she looked messy, Artemis still thought she was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She must have been blind to not see it the first time she laid eyes on her. And she couldn’t wait to touch her again.
“Let’s go,” she said, slowly turning back into her more professional self. It was good that Orleanna had made her feel things. But feelings wouldn’t help them survive getting out of the city. “Stay close to me, okay?” Orleanna nodded and Artemis knew that she meant it. From now on, neither of them would ever want to be far away from each other again.