He never once touches her, not the entire summer.
(He chains her, unchains her, gags her, ungags her, helps her fasten and unfasten her diving suit.)
He never once touches her. Not like--
She can't tell how many days it's been, not even when her period comes; she's never been regular. She doesn't have to tell him, of course, the closet is so small she can smell the blood even through her own sweat. He brings her tampons and pads without comment, a selection of sizes and absorbencies, very thoughtful, she wonders if it was a girlfriend or a sister who taught him. She wonders if he has a sister, brother, parents. He doesn't seem to have friends, except for the ones who picked the vampire over him. It's hard to keep people from that other world, that world where the only monsters are human, once you fall into this one. She understands that.
She wonders how he found out monsters were real. Who he lost, how he lost them. She's sure it couldn't have been vampires. He couldn't have befriended Angelus if it had been vampires.
"I told you, I don't know anything. Daniel's gone."
"It's always a shock, isn't it, to discover that hell dimensions are so much less final than you'd think."
"What, did you find the baby? Funny, it doesn't seem like you got a happy ending. Reunited with your friends, baking cakes, changing diapers ... I bet if you changed enough diapers, they'd forgive you. All open arms."
"It must have been quite a disappointment, finding out Holtz was your grandfather's age and not just your father's. But perhaps he was a vigorous old man ... ?"
"Not vigorous enough? Afraid the exertion would bring on a heart attack?"
"You weren't good enough to lick his ass, you vampire-screwing turncoat freak!"
"Not good enough to kill him. That took you."
The first time he takes her outside, she almost has a panic attack. It's night, but the world's still too bright and loud: moon, streetlights, crowds on the sidewalk, sirens in the street. Her breath scrapes in her throat. Too close, everything's too close, and the only thing that stops her from screaming is the heat emanating off his body just behind her. She leans on the knowledge of the gun in his hand like she'd lean on a friend.
But the ocean's even worse. All that emptiness, all that water lapping at the boat like it wants to eat it up, swallow her down. She looks up at him as he lowers her into the water, her fingers locked on the chain. Water and distance blur his face into another moon, white, remote, unyielding. It could be a trick. He could be drowning her. He could be sending her down like Angelus, sending her down there where no one will hear her no matter much she fights and screams, down there where all she'll hear is the hiss and bubble of her breath as the air runs out.
Or he could leave her down there almost too long. Pull her up when she'd begun to panic, dump her thrashing on the iron deck, hold her steady till she'd stopped gasping. Make her fucking grateful to be saved.
You bastard, she says in her head, you fucking bastard, and rage kicks her off and out into the dark.
"You think your girlfriend'd be happy to know you keep a slave girl in your closet?"
He doesn't even flinch, damn him. "I rather think she'd be impressed."
They're fucking more often now, or just more loudly. Covering her ears doesn't help. Moans, screams, something thudding into the wall. She finds she's gripping her thighs so hard her fingers ache. Shit. Shit. She thinks of her first kill: the sight of the monster face like a blow to her chest, a personal earthquake, knocking every bone in her body just slightly out of true. The vampire grabbed her, threw her into a wall, something broke, a bone, no, Julia's bedside table, that was the phone jangling to the floor. Grabbing at whatever came to hand and bashing, she doesn't even remember realizing she'd need to stab. And then she was sitting there in the wreck of her sister's apartment, choking on the burnt tickling smell of vampire dust and listening to the dial tone from the knocked-over phone.
She makes herself goes through all her kills, one by one, every single stupid gritty sweaty detail she can remember. She counts Angelus, even though he wasn't a kill. She makes other exceptions for him, too: his hunt starts with whispering to Stephen over Daniel's body, not--earlier. She manages, most of the time, not to remember the weight of Daniel on her lap, the smell of him, old and foul and somehow smoky from that Hell place, but still recognizably the smell of Daniel's sweat and skin. Manages not to flash on the tender look in his eyes, the gentleness of his touch on her bruised cheek after he beat her.
If she's really careful, thinking of Daniel doesn't hurt at all.
One night they pass his neighbor in the hallway taking the trash out to the compactor as they return from another search. Plump woman in her forties. Tired eyes, tailored shirt bought five pounds ago. She nods at them automatically as they brush past, then jumps when she meets Justine's eyes. Surprise there, then incredulity. Contempt. Justine knows that look. The girlfriend must clean up better than she does.
"Sorry," the woman mutters. Wesley unlocks his front door.
"You're sick. I can't believe you're feeding that thing. You're disgusting."
He swabs his arm with disinfectant, puts a square bandage over it. Never looks up.
She can identify the exact flavor of humiliation in her throat: this is like being dumped before the guy's finished zipping up his pants. Chucked out like trash on the pier, and that vampire is riding in state. Wesley strapped it in as carefully as a baby in a baby seat. He'll probably tuck it in bed when he gets it home. Give it some blood and a teddy-bear, for all she knows.
The wind slaps her face (cold, autumn-cold, it's autumn now), and the waves lapping against the underside of the pier sound like a dog licking a bone.
She's lucky: A drunk couple on a date finds her instead of monsters or gangbangers. She tells them where to find the key, laughs it off as a practical joke, "my friends are probably still around here watching, they wouldn't let anything happen to me."
The woman sways a little, stupid with alcohol, trying to puzzle this out. "They shouldn't do that," she says, her hand too heavy and too warm on Justine's arm. "Honey, it could be dangerous, I don't think you should let them do that."
She was drunk last time, so she gets drunk this time too. Goes back to the bar where he found her, even. It's in his neighborhood, actually, which has got to be some kind of cosmic joke, some kind of cosmic joke with her as the punch line. She hadn't been following him; she'd been following vampires, because what else was there left for her to do?
The guy she finds is tall, dark-haired, skinny. "My place?" he slurs into her ear, but she takes him to the back instead, the corridor smelling of urine outside the john. She's been here before.
She presses this one against the wall. She's going to be on the outside this time, going to be in control. Not going to be like last time.
--Pushes her into the wall, and she's practically climbing him like a tree. She's unzipping his pants, can't get him undone fast enough, catches the zipper on something. "Sorry--" as he gasps and jerks her arm back.
"Shut up," he says, "oh, shut up," and yanks her arm up too high behind her. Body-memory of the last time he'd wrenched her arm up--up and behind; twisted her around, put a knife to her throat. Did you want to fuck me then, Wes? He pulls her other arm behind her back too, pushing her breasts out so he doesn't need to lean down that far to suck at them. His mouth is loose and wet and hot, and dulled too much by the interference of her shirt. He bites her, lightly, and she bucks against him so hard the back of her head bangs into the wall. I wanted to fuck you. I wanted to fuck you while Daniel watched.
She'd thought it was jealousy then, the shine in Daniel's eyes when he watched her.
(Oh, Justine, Julia always said, with a sigh and a smile and a shake of her head. Oh, Justine.)
Wesley lets go of her arm long enough to jerk her jeans apart and unzip himself, then shoves into her so hard she sobs. Then he's fucking her, hard and furious and almost--almost enough to-- She grips his arms tight enough to bruise, trying to slam down on him harder, desperate for more pressure, there, there, but her jeans are still mostly up, makes it hard to do more than wriggle. He shifts, thrusts at a different angle, and that's--
"Right, right, right--" She kisses her way down his neck; by his collarbone that's turned into something between licking him and breathing him in, something like gulping him down like spring water. His skin is so delicate beneath the stubble line, so thin over the beat of his pulse. That roughness, that's the scar she gave him. She thinks, Is this what it was like for Julia? and bites down hard enough to break the scab. Sweet-salt copper rush in her mouth, and he jerks against her with a low rough sound and comes. Final slam and a rough fumble with his fingers and orgasm crashes through her like a water breaking over a fall, washing her entire world white, white, white.
"Christ," a guy says, pushing past them to get to the men's room. "Next time get a room."
She laughs weakly. Licks the taste of a nosebleed off her teeth. She feels like she could stay here forever, held slouching against the wall by his weight, her legs too unsteady to move and her hands flopping limp at the end of her arms. She can't even make herself pull up her jeans. Whatever, he's blocking the view.
He presses a soft kiss to the corner of her mouth, still breathing hard, cool on her sweaty face. His fingers are so gentle on her wrists that she shivers. Warm fingertips, brush of cold, the hard edge of metal. It's not until he lets go that she can make sense of the handcuffs locked around her wrists.
"What--?" jerking forward so sharply she overbalances, but he catches her before she can fall. He sets her back. Zips himself up quite briskly and coolly and then does up the buttons on her jeans, impersonally and without touching her skin.
He's still slick with sweat, but there's no expression on his face at all and his eyes are the coldest she's ever seen. She's mesmerized by the blood trickling down the hollow of his throat. He places his hands against the wall outside her head; crowds her close enough she can't knee him, close enough there's already a crick in her neck. He smells of sex and sweat and blood and her thighs are still sticky.
"Did you like it?" he asks evenly. "Not this, that was clear enough. I mean cutting my throat. Did you like cutting my throat?"
"I told them," she says, and she can hear herself panicking. "I told them we tricked you, I told them it wasn't your fault--"
"How kind of you," he says, very gently, and her blood runs cold.
New guy doesn't seem to have a problem with aggressive women. Grinds his hips against hers obligingly, moans as she kisses her way down his neck. Sounds like he's faking, actually, some kind of drunken courtesy, but the hard-on's real.
When she bites him, he slaps her.
"Jesus," he pants, hands to his bleeding neck, "what are you, crazy, bitch?"
She can feel her mouth beginning to swell already. "Sorry," she mumbles. Her eyes fill, and she's shaking, backing off, hugging herself. "Sorry, oh God, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." She can't stop saying it, long after he's given up on trying to calm her down and stumbled away. "I'm sorry," she keeps saying, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," even though no one's there to hear.
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