by B. Cavis
by B. Cavis
He tells himself that he has no connection with her.
“She was found dead yesterday morning, Ari. She… she was murdered.”
“Get me the file.”
After all, how close can one be with the woman who one held hostage? How close can you get with a brunette you kidnap? He’s never had a real conversation with her, never learned her middle name from anything more than a file, and somehow this means that he shouldn’t feel this much about her lying dead and under a marble headstone.
Somehow the fact that she never saw him outside of a “work” situation should mean that she isn’t worthy of being mourned by him-- that she isn’t something he has a right to miss.
He tells himself that.
He’s not entirely surprised when it doesn’t work all that well.
Ari sips at the vodka in his hand, the ice cubes cool up against the frosted glass, and he licks the flavor from his lips. It’s a soft, smooth comfort that slides down his throat with a fire behind it, and he motions to have it refilled. The bartender doesn’t say anything about the fact that there is a Middle Eastern man drinking at his bar with several large glossy photographs in front of him of a dead girl.
Dead girl. Ari snorts without humor or cheer, the noise wrapped up in repressed sadness and pain. Odd to think of her as mortal-- as having the limitations of everyone else. He tends to only see the mortality of people he is sent to kill; those who are destined to wind up at the barrel of his gun are best when mortal. It makes killing them that much easier.
Ari sighs, rubs one hand through his hair, and takes a slightly larger sip. Usually, he can make himself at least smirk with his internal wit. Apparently, he’s not in the mood for it tonight.
C’est la vie.
Once, a decade or so ago, he was almost killed by a suicide bomber. He’d just turned a corner in one of his favorite farmers markets when someone had decided to go BOOM, and he’s been blown to the ground, dirt in his face, clothes on fire.
The wounds hadn’t been severe. The marks it left on his psyche were.
His father had poured him a good strong drink when he had walked through the door. Ari had downed it, and stuck his hand so close to the Shabbat candles burning quietly on the stovetop that the hair on the back of his hand had singed.
“Feel any better?” The older man who had his nose had asked, and Ari had poured himself a glass of water, pressing the cool glass up against his hand briefly.
“There is something that hurts inside my chest.”
His father nodded sagely. “That’s your heart,” he said in a tone so serious that the words were anything but. He had meant to get a smile from him-- draw one out of the corner of his mouth. Ari drank another glass of water and went to bed.
It was his first real taste of his own mortality-- of the weakness inherent in flesh and bone and blood. Logically, he knows that Caitlin is made of the same stuff; they are all the same. But the idea of her being thrown to the ground the way he was-- to be just as frail as he is… it doesn’t seem logical.
He swallows more of the vodka and remembers the scent of his father’s apartment and the warm smell of the wax dripping down the iron work candlestick. His chest feels that way now. But his heart is always there and his father always has been a smart ass.
This is fucking ridiculous, he growls silently into his glass. No woman-- no person-- should be able to make him sit and drink without knowing why. No one should be able to make him do anything, especially a woman he has only seen twice in his life and never under anything close to civil conditions. He’s only come face to face with her twice, and both times she held her own against a man she saw as a terrorist-- a dangerous, heartless individual.
He respects her for that.
Respected, some small, masochistic voice inside of him speaks up. Dead girls don’t use the present tenses.
His shoulder twinges. He takes a bigger sip and keeps his eyes firmly on the file in front of him. Two bullets in her otherwise flawless, hole-free flesh. One in the chest, one in the arm.
He grabbed that arm once upon a time. Pulled that chest up against his with it. They felt solid; good. She had smelled like sweat and deodorant and some fruity shampoo that would have given him a headache if he had used it himself, but smelled surprisingly manageable when it was on her. She had let out a grunt (because contrary to what he had no doubt she berated herself with later, she had hit him with all of the muscles in her body, and it had hurt his arm to stop her from putting that “dissecting tool” through his chest) and he had felt her breath, warm and wet against his face.
She had breathed just a little bit quicker when he had put his mouth next to her ear, and when he had pulled away and seen that it was fury and not (dime-store novel tripe, growls the realist inside him) passion, he had bit back the urge to grin at her and offer her his email address.
A woman who could hold her own against him-- keep from thinking with her clit and keep her fear from being allowed to overcome her. And she had been afraid. And she had been brave.
He rubs one hand over his eyes, pushing in until the lights flash on the black background of his lids. Had been-- this is good. This is progress, and progress is always a good thing.
Dead Girl looks cold on the ground, eyes open, mouth parted. He can see the blood streaming from the corner of her mouth, and Ari swallows, as if that will somehow clear it from her tongue as well. Her fingernails are broken, the stumps covered in skin. She fought back. Caitlin would have fought back.
Dead girl’s are dead whether or not they fought. Dead girls, by their very definition, are dead.
God, he hates being masochistic sometimes.
Her legs are bare and clean shaven, and there are large bruises running up and down them. The knee high lace-up designer boots she’s wearing are scuffed up, white marks covering the black leather. No strapy heels on duty for her-- no sir. His girl wears (wore, he corrects himself viciously, wore!) shoes made for movement. Ass kicking shoes, he thinks wryly.
He wonders which one of her overprotective male colleagues took these pictures. Did Agent Gibbs bow out and let Agent Dinozzo do his sister the honor of documenting her death? Of preparing to catch her killer? Or did he push him aside and take the camera away, knowing how much she would hate for anyone to see her so vulnerable? Did he need to be the only one to see her through the lens-- who saw her like that? Did they both go to vomit into the bushes, leaving on the newly introduced Agent McGee to take care of things?
He has an image of three men, alone and silent, sitting at a bar like this one and trying to pretend like they don’t have tear ducts. Their colleague, their friend is a dead image in their heads, and they can’t remember any of the good times they had with her, only the fact that they will never have any more of them. Someone’s finger itches from where it was laid on the button that snapped the shutter. Someone has lead stains on their callused skin from the crime scene sketches.
All of them have whiskey on their breath.
He shakes himself firmly, loosening the image from his mind. Assumptions like that are ones that he has no right to make; he has more brains that to think like that-- to be so melodramatic about one measly person.
…Maybe a nameless, faceless agent he doesn’t know or care about took the photos. That strikes him as less… likely.
But then again, the idea that Caitlin Todd would wind up dead and in glossy photographs was something he hadn’t thought likely either. And yet, here he is.
The bartender takes the bill he shoves at him without comment. He says nothing when the pictures disappear into the folder again, the folder disappears into his jacket pocket, and Ari stands up, stumbling slightly.
He’d like to pretend it’s the alcohol making him disoriented. Discombobulated.
His head doesn’t clear when he steps outside, but he slips onto his bike and drives a straight line without any hesitation.
The lock is unsurprisingly difficult to get through, but he has nothing if not time and patience. His hands are skilled at the art of getting into places that he is not permitted to get into, and when he hears the final little click of the pins setting into place, he turns to doorknob and steps inside her space; her air.
It smells of her-- God, why does it have to smell like her?
Ari stops breathing through his nose. His mouth is just as good for the purpose, and he tells himself that to believe the air is flavored like her as well is just foolish. Air doesn’t have flavors and even if they did, he has no way of knowing what Caitlin Todd tastes like. He’s given up on trying to keep himself in the past tense. It’s just his head, after all. The only damage he will do is to himself and his own psyche, and he probably deserves it.
No, he thinks to the ghost of his mother, glaring at him from inside his head for being so self-hating, that is not masochism. That is truth. There are more than enough sins in his past to warrant whatever karma wants to throw upon him.
It occurs to him that he’s never had anyone glare at him because they gave a damn about him, except for his mother and father.
He shrugs, drops his leather jacket on the floor, and moves further into the air that he wants to believe will hold some answers-- some reason as to why she is now Dead Girl, why he is standing in her apartment, why he has questions that require resolution in the first place.
Why is he invading the privacy of the spirit of a woman he barely knew?
There’s a pair of heels lying next to the couch, heeled and expensive looking, but worn. Loved, not old, he’d like to think. He shoves his hands in his pockets to keep from picking one of them up and doing something (he can’t quite decide what) inappropriate, and his hands smooth over the lint in the creases. He walks carefully past the shoes, avoids the coffee table corners, and walks over to the low glass shelf secured to the wall. There’s a think sprinkling of dust on it, and it makes a sour smile come onto his face. Not the most domestic woman.
There are only a few pictures, but they are dog eared and in warm wooden frames. He examines a college aged Caitlin in a pair of loose pants and a sports top, hair pulled up high on her head, sporting a grin that looks slightly menacing. There’s a fencing foil tosses jauntily over her shoulder, and though her stance is entirely wrong, her fingers are positioned properly and her arms are toned in the right places. There’s a group picture of her and her team, all of them smiling (or, in Agent Gibbs’s case, smirking all-knowingly) and everyone looks thinner than he remembers them, but not in a emaciated way. Someone put a drink down on the picture, and the white circle that mars the photo would be an eyesore if she had allowed it to decrease the snap shot’s value.
She didn’t. He thinks the water stains add character to Agent Dinozzo’s face.
Some children play among the frames, happy and plump, bearing the slightest resemblance to her. The hair is the same, but the facial features are that of another woman’s, and he feels quietly relieved for some reason that he’s not going to both himself with right now. Caitlin holds a red face, ugly baby in her arms, grinning wide and happy at the camera, and he laughs to himself quietly.
He takes himself into the kitchen, finds the bunch of bananas on her counter and puts them into the fridge absently. She has half a dozen take out numbers on the fridge, a few Snoopy cartoons that he doesn’t find very funny, and one or two “Pearls Before Swine” that he remembers someone laughing about on a bus next to him once. There’s a magnet on her fridge that says “HAPPY BIRTHDAY BITCH” with a picture of a pink dog, the paint so worn it’s almost white, and he decides to leave her kitchen before he can do something as stupid as start poking around inside her fridge.
Her bedroom is cold and crisp-- she left the window cracked when she was last here. The bed is unmade, the sheets messy. He doesn’t smell sex in the air, but the absence of it means nothing to him in this state-- in this numbness. The pain in his throat and upper chest has gotten worse. He swallows again, but nothing happens.
Water, he thinks to himself, more of an order than a realization, and his legs follow it without hesitation. Her bathroom tiles are clean and red, the walls white with gauzy crinkled curtains. He turns the faucet on and cups his hands underneath it, watching the cool silk gather in his palms, covering him in clean.
He bends his head to the water and puts it to his eyes instead of his lips, cupping his dry and aching eyeballs in sweet wet relief. The ache in his throat remains, but he bathes his eyes. Better hoarse than crying. Better anything than crying, because he really does belief that that might just kick him so hard in the gut that he won’t be able to breath right for years.
“Caitlin, when you get to know me better, you won’t call me that.”
“I have no intention on getting to know you better.”
He cups more water.
But I wanted to get to know you better, you silly little woman. I wanted you to get to know me better, and I wanted to know you. He sighs and takes a deep breath into his lungs and holds it there like maybe the smell of her will cure him.
“Stupid little fool,” he murmurs, unsure if he means her, him, or who ever else might want to step up to the title. He wipes his face on his sleeves, the cloth rough against his skin, and when he lifts his head up the face he sees in the mirror looks nothing like his own.
They look like they belong to a ghost.
He turns, gun in hand, and she recoils slightly, eyes widening slightly, breath lengthening. Her hands tense at her side, resisting the urge to raise up and become the totally helpless damsel in distress. She looked like that when Marta held the gun in her face; like she was facing down her own death.
Dead Girls can’t die, whispers the voice in the recesses of his mind that apparently has something to do besides beat him. He swallows, hard, and she puts her hands down. Her arms are bare; whole and pale.
“You’re a ghost,” he tells her, and the look on her face makes him holster his weapon quickly. Some time ago, he promised himself that he would never hold a gun on her again, and ghost or no ghost this is as close to having Caitlin Todd in front of him as he is likely to get right now.
More or less.
“You are dead,” he says, as if trying to convince someone (her, perhaps?), and she swallows.
He closes his eyes, hiding her from sight for a moment. His hands find the marble rim of the sink behind him, and he keeps himself up and firm by pressing against the cold and wet stone underneath his hands. “What did I do to you to deserve to be haunted like this?” he whispers, and it burns his throat badly to say the words. To admit to himself, if not her spirit, that that has been a question that he has been silently asking her since the day he first put her on that table and touched her hurts his pride and the part of him that enjoys being a lone wolf. A pack of one. The gun is warm and heavy against his side, but he is used to it by now.
Her hand is cool against the top of his head, brushing hair away from his ears with slow even moments of her fingertips. “I don’t know… Something, though.”
Ari forces his eyes open (because if he is going to be haunted he might as well see his tormenter) and she is looking up at him with her dark, wonderfully deep brown eyes when he does so. She takes her hand away from his hair, and the look on her face says she is going to pull away. He grabs her around the waist and keeps her exactly where she is. Her hands come up against her chest, but she doesn’t sink through him and she doesn’t push away. He’s not sure which one means more.
“You’re dead,” he says again, and the exhaustion on her face is overwhelming and painful to look at. He puts his face down, and presses his eyes into her hair so he doesn’t have to look at it anymore.
“Yeah,” she whispers, and his hands tighten on her quickly. “Probably.”
She tastes like cinnamon breath mints and strawberry lip gloss. He keeps his eyes open , watching the thin veil of silver sparkles on her eyelids as they reflect the light, and when she parts her lips he moves forward without hesitation. Her fingers twine with the hair at the base of his neck, hesitant and not entirely certain of what they’re doing, and he pulls her tighter to him with the one hand while the other comes up and grabs her by the hair.
She hisses as he pulls her head back by his handhold, teeth sinking into her neck, and the sound she lets out goes straight to is cock. His eyes close, the scent, the sound, the feel of her knocking him into weakness.
Does this count as necrophilia?
Her hands are dry on the back of his neck, pulling at his shirt collar, and when she works her hands between them to try and unbutton him, he jerks back and looks at her like something has just smacked him in the back of his head and knocked some sense into him. She looks at him, purple circles dark underneath her worn off concealer. She looks like she hasn’t slept in while-- like she’s been up nights thinking.
He’s had this dream before. “You’re a hallucination,” he says, and she swallows, trying to regain control of her breathing. “I’ve had you before-- you are nothing but a dream. I’m probably passed out on the floor in your bathroom.”
“Then there’s no reason to stop,” she argues quietly, and he presses the heel of his hands against his eye sockets, moaning. “I don’t want to stop, Ari. I want to… I want to feel normal again…”
“You’ve never said that before.”
“Hallucinations can’t change?” she asks mildly.
“Usually, you’re the same,” he says, trying not to sound like he’s defending himself to a figment of his imagination. “Always… It’s the same…”
“This time I’m changing,” she whispers and steps forward, taking his lips with hers as she unbuttons the shirt and pushes it aside. Her tongue touches his bottom lip briefly, and he jerks forward to try and grab her again, but she takes his hands and presses them against the counter again, curling his fingers around the edge.
One cool finger traces the line of his muscles from throat to belt, tickling lightly over his stomach. He grips the counter tighter and watches her eyes lap him up.
Usually, by now, his illusion is bent over something nice and flat (any preferably in a position that neither one of them is physically capable of) with his hands on her and his teeth on her ass. Usually she’s wearing skin and nothing but it at this point. Usually he has her on the edge of sanity and reason.
He’s already been pushed over it and splattered on the cracked and dead Earth below it. She really is something different tonight; his subconscious must be trying to compensate to the highest extent for the fact that anytime he imagines her after this, it’ll be tinged with blood and murder.
She uses both hands to unbuckle his belt, focusing on him with every ounce of her attention, and it’s sexier than any woman who has ever undone him with one hand while not looking, or unzipped him with her teeth and her lips. She leans forward a presses a single kiss in the center of his life, lips against his heartbeat, and God help him but he wants to hold her to his chest like some alpha male with a beta female. Protect her.
But those without flesh don’t need to be protected from anything but the failure of memory.
He will never forget her. Any of her. Every memory he has of her life will be drawn tight into that little part of him that he doesn’t like to admit exists, and he knows that when he dies alone and cold in his spy’s bed, she will be there with him, sitting across from him on a sun drenched day that tasted of white wine and fear.
His dick bounces up to meet her, full and thick, and she pushes his boxers down to bite into his upper thighs. Her hand is pale and cold against his (fucking boiling) skin, and she doesn’t say any of the unbearably hot things that she usually does. Doesn’t take words from a man’s vocabulary and put them in her woman’s mouth. She just… smiles. Gently.
His knees are weaker than any “Oh God you’re so fucking huge” comment could get them.
Caitlin’s lips are bitten and scratched up with her own teeth marks. She licks them before she puts them on his skin, and the warm kiss she places on the head of his cock is cautious. Tentative.
He’s seen her deep throat him before.
“Ari,” she whispers, “keep your eyes on me.” And she’s usually not the one in charge, but hell, he’s not going to argue with her. He pushes his head forward to rest his chin on his chest, eyelids heavy and half squinted, and once she’s sure he’s focused on her, she nods and drops her eyes down to the task at hand.
Her tongue up the side of him is the only thing he is aware of in the universe; that perfect pink little organ dipping out from between her lips to follow the vein, dip into the ridge between his base and his head, tickle the slit at the top of him. He breathes in through his nose, and she does a move with her hands and his dick and a twist of her wrist that makes him choke on the air in his lungs. She smiles again and repeats the process, bending her head forward to lick at the drop of clear fluid leaking from him.
She might as well just reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
“God, why are you dead,” he groans, and she pauses in her ministrations for a moment, before leaning forward and sucking on the head of his cock, swirling her tongue around him eagerly. “I would have solved world hunger to get you to look at me like I was something besides a killer.”
She pulls her mouth off him with a hard yank of suction and does the wrist thing again. His words melt until all he is left with is “guh,” and finding that “guh” is not the proper way to express anything to anyone, he decides to shut his mouth and let discretion be the better part of fucking.
“I’m looking at you like that right now,” she meets his eyes, sympathetic and truthful, and he sees her looking at him like a woman looks at a man whose dick she is sucking. Like a real man, not “Ari-The-Terrorist.”
“You’re only saying that because it’s what I want to hear,” he points out, and she shakes her head without hesitation.
“I’m saying it because it’s the truth. I don’t tell lies.” He doesn’t bother responding. Obviously, figments of his abused mind aren’t easily convinced that they’re not real and therefore aren‘t capable of working in a way his subconscious doesn’t order them to, and he doesn’t have the energy for it.
He doesn’t have a whole lot of anything right now.
But God she is beautiful. Bold and perfect with her pouting lips engulfing him, tongue licking at him like he’s covered in syrup-- he has never seen anything more amazing, and no matter how many times he pictures her doing this for him he is never bored with it. Never bored with her.
“I want to touch you,” he says, and she nips the underside of his cock gently. His knuckles are white on the countertop. “Come up and let me touch you.”
“What if I want to finish you like this?” she asks, dark and playful, and he closes his eyes and shakes his head.
“Come up to me. Please, Caitlin…”
She doesn’t move, doesn’t say anything for a long moment. When the warmth of her pulls away, he keeps his eyes closed, too afraid of what he might see her doing. Has this fantasy decided to become tinged with even more reality? Will he see her lying dead on the floor the way she looked in the pretty glossy photographs?
“Come to bed, Ari,” the sweet smelling drift of woman that he finds in his arms presses us against his chest, fully clothed, and he opens his eyes to look at her. Her lips are parted and her eyes are wet; there’s a softness there that he has never seen her wear before. She always looks at him with lust, with need, with want-- never with uncertainty and certainly never with true softness in her face.
He pulls his pants up and follows because there is no where else his feet could take him.
She turns to pull the blankets down, and when she turns goes to turn back to him, he pushes his erection against her ass, holding her there and breathing roughly in her ear as his teeth take new ownership of her earlobe. His open zipper scratches across the fabric of her pants. She tilts her head over her shoulder and he has her mouth once more, tongue searching for new stimuli, body pushing for more of whatever she is willing to give to him. His hands on her stomach, on her abdomen, on her shoulders, on her upper thighs, fingers touching places that he hasn’t truly enjoyed touching in a long, long while. She moves where he pushes and pulls her, obeys silent needs and grants quiet wishes.
She pulls at her own shirt, and he rips it up over her head quickly, turning her hair into a thick dark disarray that slips down her neck to offer modesty to the sin of her shoulders and back. He pushes it away from her skin, lifting it up to examine the texture and weight under his hands while examining the texture and taste of the area between her shoulder blades with his mouth. She arches forward, back muscles tensing and straining, and she looks for all the world like an avenging angel, ready to bring sword down upon evil and fire upon his enemies.
It occurs to him that he doesn’t think he can bare to have this fantasy again. It’s too real, too close. Randomly fucking her was one thing while she was still alive. Making love to her while she’s dead is quite another.
Her bra comes undone under fingers that have done that simple act more than enough times to eliminate any fumbling, and he takes his mouth away from her back in order to examine new territory. She gives a little sigh when he takes a breast in either hand, supporting and gently squeezing, lifting her arms up to wrap around his neck from behind and keep him in place. He bites the side of her neck he hasn’t gotten to already, teeth drawing gasps and whines from her as he holds her in the palms of his hands and rubs his cock against her ass in slow, jerky circles.
Caitlin doesn’t say anything when he pulls her around to face him and pushes her down to sit on the bed, legs spread and hands on the bed. She only sighs when he takes her nipple in between his teeth and licks the salt of sweat from her skin with small, easy laps of his tongue. Her fingers in his hair keep him from disassociating with her and the scene. This may be an illusion, but an imaginary Caitlin deserves more attention than any other woman he has ever been with in reality, and he knows it.
She pinches her other nipple, hard, and when he sees her doing it he shoves her hand away and takes up the cause himself. His fingers are capable of a better hurt, and she rocks forward on the bed with a little grunt. “Ari,” she breathes, and he pulls his mouth off of her nipple to lean up and kiss her. He loves it when she says his name like that.
He keeps his mouth on hers, biting at her bottom lip, as he slides his hand down her stomach and pops the button on her pants. The smell that slinks up to greet his nose makes him release her mouth with a little grunt and grab her pants with both hands, yanking her shoes off and throwing the bundle of cloth and leather away from them both. She jumps slightly at the sound of it hitting the wall, and he pushes his face forward to lick her once, as hard as he possibly can, from asshole to belly button.
She falls back, spine gone, and smiles up at the ceiling like something very amazing was just bestowed upon her by some higher power. He swallows hard and puts his hands on her knees to hold himself together and keep her open in front of him.
“Ari,” she sighs again when he bites down on her inner thigh, and he has a feeling that this time she does it more because she knows exactly what it does to him to hear her like that than for any overwhelming pleasure on her part. He does it again on the other side, throwing his tongue into the mix, and she pushes her hips towards him insistently, breathing harder.
When his fingers part her, hold her open to the air, the noise she lets out pushes something in his throat down just long enough for him to take a deep breathe.
He kisses her, directly on top of her clit, and she grips the fitted bed sheet in her hands with bitten down nails. “Don’t tease me,” she begs, and he does it again.
“I like to tease you,” he argues back without heat. She groans when he parts his lips and repeats the affection, tongue peeking out of his mouth to press, frictionless and motionless, against her. He opens his mouth a little bit wider and drags his bottom teeth over her clit, brief and fleeting, and the voice that comes out of her is sex and desperation; exactly the way he loves her to be inside his head.
“Make me come,” she answers, pleading and pushing with her hips. He throws one arm over her waist and holds her open with one hand’s spread fingers, pressing her down into the mattress. She slips her legs over his shoulders and tries to pull him forward, and when the sound that comes from her throat is truly capable of being described as “keening,” he obliges her.
“Oh God,” she whispers when he licks her with the tip of his tongue. He swirls it over her the way she usually likes it, but her hips don’t do the little twist thing that they normally do, so he moves on to the secrets his first one night stand in college taught him. Apparently his subconscious has decided to be extremely difficult tonight; he’s going to have to work to satisfy his dark haired siren tonight.
He’s never been more thankful.
“More tongue,” she demands, and he gives until she starts whining in the back of her throat, high pitched and breathless. One hand swings out wildly to rest on the top of his head, fingers in his hair, and she is truly desperate now. He’s always been especially good at this and he knows it. Tongue and teeth and lips can take a woman apart and spread her out for examination-- they can make someone tightly put together crumble and beg and need.
She swallows messily, gulping in air and tilting her head down to look at him. He looks back up at her, dark and steady and challenging, and when he bites down on her clit with half of the strength of his jaw, she squeezes her eyes shut and dissolves on his tongue and on her bed and across his hands. Her throat releases sounds that are meant to entice him, to make him just as out of control as she is.
He’s been that way since he saw her ghost walked across the scenery in his mind.
Ari jerks his pants down to rest underneath his knees, cock arching up at her with a need that he can’t control anymore. God he can’t even keep his control around her image, around her fantasy. She gives a little grunt when his hands come around her waist and pull, but she doesn’t fight to stay on the bed and the next moment she finds herself straddling his lap, naked and flushed red. Her eyes are fuzzy but aware, and the smile on her face is light and airy.
“I liked that,” she says, and kisses him, one hand coming up to cup his cheek. He closes his eyes this time and doesn’t say anything. He’s enjoying this self-delusion too much. His brain has nothing more to say upon the status and lives of Dead Girls, and he doesn’t ask for any more insights.
She rubs herself across his erection, teasing and wet, and wraps him up in her hand to keep him still and her possession. He keeps his eyes closed and his lips on hers, tongue licking at her teeth, breathing hard. He searches for comfort, for salvation from the dark pull of reality that looms in the background, and she offers it.
She grunts when she pushes down upon him, and his eyes open as she pulls away and tilts her head back with the single sigh of “Ari…”
Ari drags his eyes over her tightly drawn throat, all strength and stretch, and with one hand wrapped around the small of her back, keeping her balanced and on him, he reaches out with the other to touch her power and be moved. He remembers touching the Wall of Jerusalem and wondering why people prayed when all it had was stone and blood upon it.
She slowly starts to move upon him, tight and wet, and he is going to have a black mark against him come Yom Kippur, because the thought flashes through his head, blasphemous and true, that he will pray to Caitlin-- that perhaps he has been for a while now.
She rests her hands on his shoulders to keep herself steady. She looks down on him like an angel deigning to be with a mere mortal, and his overactive brain concocts a quick story about an angel who falls in love with a human even as he leans forward and eats her neck. The groan she lets out vibrates over his tongue, and the angel wraps her arms around his neck and presses her chest up against his, feather soft and full of light.
“Talk to me,” she commands, breathless with her halo around her ankles, and who is he to argue with someone who flies higher than he can ever fathom?
“You are the most beautiful woman I ever met,” he groans into the hollow her collarbone makes with the rest of her chest. He finds her sweet spot hiding where shoulder meets neck, and she gasps at the feeling of him as her pussy contracts around him. “The most incredible, brave, perfect woman…” He puts both hands around her waist as her movement falter and starts to lift and drop her, helping her shaking leg muscles. “I should have taken you and tied you to my bedposts when I had the chance… Never let you leave unless it was to shower with me, eat with me, be with me…” He can feel his entire body tensing, muscles pulling, and he drops one hand from her waist to her clit, rubbing the swollen, abused little bunch of nerves with his thumb and pointer fingers, watching her face. Waiting. Waiting.
He wants to catch her nipples in his mouth again or somehow be able to touch all of her sensitive spots at once like he usually can, but for some reason he doesn’t have twenty arms in this one, and that is something that he doesn’t stop to think about. Just focus, he tells himself. Look at her and focus and be with her.
Her wings are beating against his back, her holiness flaking off to spread out on the floor. He pushes his cock up into her harder-- dethrone the angel, something inside him whispers. Make her human again. Make her human for the first time.
He trusts in her grip on his shoulders and pulls one hand up to have her suck on his finger, lips working around the digit as her tongue swirls over his print. He pulls it away and puts his arm behind her again, making absolutely sure she’s steady, before pushing his still wet finger in between her cheeks and seeking out that puckered little muscle that sometimes her image lets him fuck. Her mouth drops open when she feels the pressure of his index finger against it, insistent and warm, and he holds it there for a good long moment, letting her anticipation build and stew inside her.
When he pushes it inside of her, she squeals and he feels her stubby nails tickling helplessly at his back as she loses all composure. Her hair is thick with sweat and it drips down her back and tickles at his upper thighs when she throws her head and shoulders all the way back, exposing her jugular and her life.
He bites down on her sweet spot, breaking capillaries and pulling at her skin hard. The noises she is making, the movements she is performing tear a little vital part of him asunder and he is throw howling into the abyss, the darkness licking at his heels.
He collapses back onto the carpet, pants around his ankles, and she follows him down, still attached to him. Her nose is warm and her breath is hot against the crook of his neck. She doesn’t fight him when he wraps his arms tight around her and hides his face in the top of her hair.
“Lie to me,” he whispers. “Lie to me, just this once-- make it better.”
She sprawls in the cradle of him and strokes his chest with easy, firm movements of her hand and wrist. “I’m not dead, Ari. We faked it to pull a suspect out of hiding; a man who was stalking me. The whole thing was a sham. All of it. The photos were me covered in makeup and fake blood.” She is warm and soft against him, and he breathes in deeply, watching it move her up and down like a wave in the ocean.
Beautiful, charming, brave little Dead Girl.
“Thank you,” he whispers and closes his eyes.
He wakes up covered in his own come, white and gunky on his skin, lying by the side of her fully made bed. He looks down at himself in disgust and groans. God damn it-- he is more pathetic than any man has any right to be. It isn’t the first time he’s woken up covered in body fluids with her name lodged in his throat, and he doubts it will be the last.
He makes sure that nothing has spilled on her rug, before stumbling into the bathroom and cleaning himself off with a sink full of hot water and some tissues. His hands are shaking slightly and his entire body feels like it has been taken and ripped open before being sewn back up by a tailor missing four fingers. Somewhere in his stomach, something is thrashing and curling; guilty for what he did, pissed at his weakness, saddened by her loss. There are way too many emotions in him right now, so he pours the sink full of cold water this time and dunks his entire head in to clear them out.
He tells himself that Dead Girls don’t care if you use their bath towels, sighs, and rubs his hair dry again.
He finds his shirt next to the sink where he dropped it last night in a lust driven state of insanity and pulls it on. He pulls his pants up and zips and buckles them. He was in such a fit he didn’t even kick off his shoes last night. He shakes his head at his own pathetic behavior and runs a little of her mouthwash over his teeth.
Ari examines himself in the mirror, decides he looks haggard and wounded, and shrugs. Best not to spend anymore time on a futile venture.
He locks her door from the outside wipes his fingerprints off the doorknob out of habit before tucking his picklocks back into the pocket next to the folder that’s still pressed up against his chest like a clergyman’s Bible.
The bike accepts him like it always has and always will, and he fastens the helmet and gloves before pulling it out of the secluded side street he found to park it on. Best not to show his face in DC around Caitlin Todd’s apartment.
Put this behind you, his self-preservation whispers. Get far away from this town and the ghost of this woman. Don’t come back here. Ever. He pulls into traffic and merges seamlessly with the rest of the world, like he never left them all behind in the soft smell of her and the feel of her carpet under his ass while her doppelganger rode him to completion.
He shakes away the old myths that he learned in college-- that if a doppelganger is seen by someone besides the owner, it is a bad omen. A warning of death upcoming.
He swallows and stops at the red light that appears in front of his tired eyes, feet going out to steady either side of the bike as he waits impatiently for the light to change and the people to get out of his way. Get out of this town, he tells himself once more and knows that it won’t change anything, but maybe he wants to pretend for a little while longer like it will.
I’ll get out of this area and I will be able to breathe again. Go home and find another assignment, another plot to take apart and a group to disband. I’ll find something to do and all of this will just become a memory that I will be able to make fun of in a few years. He runs through the names of lovers he has had and lost, and wonders why he doesn’t put her name in there with them.
“Get out of this town,” he mutters to himself and resists the urge to lift the visor up and rub the bridge of his nose in frustration. The red light glows steadily.
He sees it out of the corner of his eye at first. Just a speck of white. Another pedestrian, another possible spot on the pavement. He focuses his head straight ahead, eyes scanning for cars with incompetent drivers the way they always are when he’s on his bike.
The white grows, surrounded by blacks and reds and greens, and the flow of people that start to spill across his vision are bland and meaningless to him and probably to anyone else in the world. Another investment banker. Another lawyer. Another janitor. Nothing that is of any importance to anyone except as a possible body count.
She walks, wings tucked back and halo firmly glowing around her head as the wind blows it to and fro (is that her hair? Oh God is that her hair?) Her skirt is down to the middle of her calves, white and clean, and it tangles and flutters around her legs like a swarm of white moths drawn to her flame. His hand is on his visor before he can stop it, and he jerks it up without finesse or pretense.
Her arms are clean and bare and strong with muscle and power. There’s a bite mark on her neck, and she doesn’t have any concealer on it. On his mark.
She tilts her head in his direction, eyes calm and clear and happy, and the smile she gives him makes the shock in his eyes grow exponentially. “Hi,” she calls out cheerfully. “Nice day, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he responds mechanically, unsure of what is coming out of his mouth. “Lovely.”
She keeps walking, white on black, white on every other color of absolutely no importance. The wings shift in the breeze, full and beautiful, and if he wasn’t looking so closely he might see them as a long scarf tossed haphazardly around her neck and dancing in the wind the day has seen fit to give them.
A car beeps behind him, and he looks up to realize that the light has turned green without him realizing it. He throws the visor back down and turns his head back to look for her as the bike starts moving.
She is a flash of white amongst the darkness.
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