This story is set slightly before Christmas. (I'm a very, very slow writer.)

The worse part was that it had started out as a great day.

In some ways it still was: the sun shone brightly, accentuating the vivid reds and golds proudly displayed on dignified trees, more than making up for the chill breeze and really, Myka would appreciate all this a little more if she weren't covered head to toe in mud.

She picked out a particularly drippy piece stuck in her hair and held it between her forefinger and thumb. Claudia found her glaring at it as though it was personally responsible for all the misery in her life.

"So," she drawled. "Holding up okay?"

"There is no way," Myka flicked away the mud. "That a necklace can cause this much damage."

Claudia looked at the smoking remains of the warehouse (not the Warehouse, a warehouse, in southwestern Montana). Claudia looked back at Myka. She raised a single, sceptical eyebrow and Myka grimaced.

She glanced down at the mud drying quickly on her body and amended, a bit sulkily: "Well. It shouldn't be able to cause this much damage."

Recognizing the early signs of a grouchy Myka, Claudia changed topics with an awkwardness that belied all the practice she had been getting in the past week.

"Artie's saying Harrison is headed for a different state," Claudia said. "But for all we know, the artifact could have passed onto another woman."

The artifact was a necklace originally owned by Louise Brooks, the darling of silent films in the 1920s. Outspoken and incredibly headstrong, she had influenced an entire generation of flappers. Her favourite pearl necklace had become infused with those qualities, times ten. Then raised to power ten.

It drove whoever wore it to act on their deepest desires and damn courtesy and inhibitions for nothing. (There were no shortage of these artifacts, she noted with a heavy sigh.)

Personally, Myka thought the necklace was a bad feminist for making it seem as though women couldn't get what they wanted without blowing up buildings and giggling at the resulting carnage before taking off in a car like a bat out of hell.

A stolen car. A Secret Service agent's car. Myka felt forlornly at the front pocket of her jacket, knowing all the while that the keys would not be there – Lola Harrison, the previous possessor of the necklace, had snatched Myka's keys during a brief scuffle earlier. (Harrison had decided her deepest desire involved kidnapping Helena. Myka had vehemently disagreed.)

Myka stifled a groan and attempted a search for the last vestiges of her professional composure. "So we're back to square one?"

"Yup," Claudia fiddled with the Farnsworth in her pocket.

"Great. Okay. On to plan," Myka paused, trying to remember. "Plan D."

Claudia sighed. "And it's only noon. Man, today seemed to be going so well."

Her sentiments exactly. Myka managed a tight smile before setting a direct path for their hotel room, wincing at the squelch of her every step.

The day hadn't gotten much better after that. It turned out the artifact had in fact transferred to another woman – Sophie Levesque, who lived in Idaho – and Pete's car ran out of gas halfway there (Her car would never have done anything so inconsiderate.) They then had to wait for Steve and Claudia to catch up and had to stuff themselves and all their equipment into one SUV. (She was forced to punch Pete repeatedly to stop him from giggling about Helena having to sit in her lap. Oh, for the days when neutralizing canisters and overnight bags all fit into the trunk!) Then Artie had Farnsworthed, told them Levesque was in Wyoming. (Myka hated Wyoming.) Eventually the team – minus Claudia, who was doing something tech-y with Artie via Farnsworth – found themselves somewhere in Newcastle, staring at a house that seemed to be decaying before their very eyes.

Pete entered first, Tesla drawn, with Steve, Myka and Helena behind him, quiet and alert. Steve eyed the ceiling stained with the coffee stains of water damage with a wariness that Myka wholeheartedly shared. If the roof gave up on them...Myka shook her head and focused on the hand signals Pete was making (a language she'd gotten much better at reading); he and Steve would check the ground floor for any sign of Levesque while she and Helena cleared the second story of the old house.

Mansion would probably be a better word.

It was like something out of a fairy tale, if the fairy tale was aimed at the discerning few who found beauty in decrepit Gothic architecture. Candles sputtered and dripped in bronze holders at regular intervals on the wall adjacent to the staircase, and Myka spotted at least five ornate frames with portraits of the previous owners. Despite the antiquated furniture and general gloom of the building, there wasn't much dust. That would make it difficult to tell if Levesque had been here before them.

"What has you so withdrawn?" Helena asked, jerking Myka out of her musings. She brushed a hand against Myka's hip when she passed on the stairs, smiling briefly. It was the kind of light and innocuous touch Myka had come to expect from Helena, the kind that seemed accidental but was in actuality impeccably timed.

Myka returned the smile, albeit reluctantly. "Today hasn't been the best day," she said finally. "Let's just," she waved with her Tesla a little, a gesture meant to encompass the entire house, the entire city, the entire state. "Get this over with."

"Of course," Helena hummed. With that, they systematically checked all twelve rooms, including the bathrooms, finally ending up in –

"A sex dungeon," Myka stated. "An honest to God sex dunge – H.G.!"

The woman in question pulled her hand away from the table in the corner of the room, looking vaguely guilty. Her expression cleared quickly. "I am given to understand that 'sex dungeons'," Myka could hear the quotation marks click into place as Helena spoke. "Are supposed to be in the lower floors of a given building. I believe this is just a room. Dedicated to the act of sexual intercourse."

Myka had quickly learned that Helena could make anything, even the most dry, clinical terms for sex, sound unbelievably tempting. With that knowledge came the realization she would soon need an empty room to –

"Oh, what is this?"

"Don't touch it," Myka said automatically, turning away from her halfhearted inspection of the king-sized bed. She could see long leather belts beneath it, two on each side. (Myka wouldn't realize until later, thanks to an amused Helena, that the belts were in fact straps meant to hold someone down on the bed while another person had their way with them.

Helena wouldn't be as collected when Myka managed to procure a similar set up for their own bed. In fact, she would wake up the entire bed and breakfast with how not-collected she was. And the following morning would be mortifying for all involved, but that was another story.)

Myka watched with trepidation as Helena pulled out a carton from beneath a dusty table. Inside the cardboard box were books, lots and lots of little black books. Helena, of course, picked one right up and began rifling through it.

"I think this is an account of sex life of the previous owner and his paramour!"

Myka pinched the bridge of her nose briefly. "How nice," she managed. Against her better judgement, she crept closer.

"Oh, and there are diagrams. How charming."

"Charming," Myka echoed blankly. She reached into the box – slipping on gloves just in case – and pulled out a black book and flipped it open to a random page.

"Goodness, I've only once seen a woman bend that way," Helena murmured, peeking over Myka's shoulder. Myka pretended she hadn't heard.

"Why would they put this on display?" Myka, gingerly reached around a clamp in the wall – she didn't want to know what that was for – to put the book down next to a pair of fuzzy pink handcuffs, one of the only free places on the table. (The rest of the table was littered with various toys, boxes of lubricants in a wide array of flavours, an odd ring-shaped plastic thing, condom boxes in different sizes and textures, what were definitely nipple clamps, and – Myka saw Helena raise an eyebrow at this – the Hitachi Magic Wand's big brother.)

"Perhaps they were proud of their exploits," Helena replied distantly, flipping pages and looking a little too interested. "People tend to be."

"Hmph," was Myka's answer.

"Oh, darling," Helena said jovially, finally looking up from the book. "It's perfectly natural, I'm sure. If I knew all of your unorthodox sexual preferences, why, I'd – "

Myka squawked, "Helena!"

Helena smirked mischievously, like she had won something. (She probably had, Myka just didn't know what. Or how.) "You could call them kinks, like everybody else," she sputtered finally.

"Kinks," Helena's accent curled around the new word, elongating the i and hissing on the s more than strictly necessary. For emphasis, Myka supposed, suppressing the shiver. "And what are your kinks, then, Myka?"


"I..." Can't say that, can not say that. "I don't know if I have any." Myka shrugged at Helena's raised eyebrow.

Helena put the book down, looking curious. "In my experience -"

But Myka never found out what happened in Helena's experience, because there was a loud crash, like a pile of dishes had fallen off a counter and broken.

"Did that sound like several eating receptacles smashing to the ground to you as well?" Helena asked, bemused.

"No. Well, yes." Myka shook her head. "But it was too close to have come from the kitchen. It was probably just the pile of picture frames we saw in that last room. You remember, the one with all the fancy candles?"

"I'll stay in here, then. Just in case," Helena said smoothly, over Myka's snort of disbelief.

Myka slipped into the hallway, using every precaution – Tesla raised, soundless footsteps – before entering the neighbouring room. (It was unlikely that Levesque had been here at all, and she could hear the faint sounds of Steve chiding Pete for eating on the job, so the ground floor was obviously clear, but better safe than sorry was a policy invented with Myka in mind.)

The room was still as empty as it had been since they last checked it. The furniture was still scattered haphazardly around the room in the same positions, covered by the same dusty cloths. Myka catalogued the picture frames on the ground, and made to leave before cold air gusted inside.

She should close that window, Myka thought, tucking the Tesla back into her jeans; the room was lit solely by candles and if they went out, she'd be left in the dark. (Her flashlight, of course, was in the trunk of her still-stolen car.)

"Oh, wow," Myka whispered, gazing out the window. She rose on tip toe to get a better view of the backyard, resting her hands on the crowded windowsill.

Overgrown bushes flourished at the borders of the garden, crept up tall wooden fences, uneven and ragged but strangely compelling nonetheless. She leaned out the window, craning her neck for a closer look. Small orange and purple flowers (more experienced gardeners – Leena included – would call them weeds, but Myka didn't care) sprouted sporadically, livening up otherwise brown and dead grass. And in the middle of it all grew a majestic cottonwood, bigger than any other she'd seen in Wyoming. The leaves glowed a vivid yellow; and the gnarled branches twisted and turned and soared into the cloudless sky, taking Myka's breath with them.

She didn't know how long she stood there, hands resting at the windowsill, just looking. She had only been away from the natural wilderness of South Dakota for a week, how was it possible she missed it this much?

Then Myka's head snapped around at a small thud! and a muffled profanity from the other room. Listening closer, she heard another, louder expletive. She laughed a little, coming back to herself. Helena had probably nudged a box off the table in her eagerness to keep reading. Served her right, Myka thought with amusement. She cast one last glance into the garden before reaching to pull down the window.

It wouldn't budge. Myka grunted, pulled harder. The window remained stubbornly stuck. She tried pushing up, then pulling down, and grinned her triumph as it glided to a close.

Then Myka cut off an expletive of her own as her hand struck a half-empty candelabra on its way back to her side. The ornament fell to the floor with a loud crash, and Myka watched in dismay as a candle rolled out of its holder.

At least it went out, Myka thought. This old house wouldn't stand a chance if even one room caught on fire. Neither, come to think of it, would she.

She stretched down to grab the candle, intent on shoving it back in its rightful place and getting the hell out of the deteriorating house. That accomplished, she stripped off the purple gloves, and ran sweaty fingers through her hair as she looked once more into the garden. Her other hand rested next to the upright candelabra, and that would prove to be the beginning of the end of her awful day.

What followed:

The recently replaced candle, still hot from the recently extinguished flame, formed beads of wax. (Steadily, but quickly, it dripped.)

Myka Bering stared out into the backyard, oblivious. She shifted her weight slightly, leaning forward a bit, and that meant she had to slide her hands forward on the windowsill.

Not a problem.

The movement placed a hand right underneath the candle.

Hot wax carved a path down the cooling candle, melting in a mostly straight line, meandering lower and lower until...

A choked sound left her throat, a sound that knew it should sound like pain but didn't quite manage it. She stared at the unassuming drop of wax, burning the junction of her thumb and forefinger. It took her a full minute to realize she ought to move her hand so that more wax couldn't fall on her.

Myka started violently when Helena materialized next to her, holding a wet cloth and looking concerned.

"Are you all right?" She frowned. "Let me get that."

"No, it's f-" Myka stopped herself just in time, fighting the blush threatening to spread across her face. Helena looked up in surprise. "I mean, I can do it." She reached out for the cloth, but Helena covered her hand.

"I insist," she said, and moved closer. The contrast of the deep heat of the wax and the cold of the towel, it felt – Myka sucked in a shaky breath, just barely managing a reassuring smile for Helena.

"Thanks," she muttered, desperately ignoring the pulling in her belly, which was not at all helped by the warmth of Helena so close by. "I – there's no one here. Let's go get Pete and Steve, and we'll find a hotel somewhere."

It had been a while, Myka thought uneasily, drumming her fingers on the armrest, since she had needed someone to hold her down and –


She didn't like thinking too hard about it. It had apparently become more accepted, in the right communities, but the right communities also believed in stripping naked and having sex in front of a club full of people.

Myka really wasn't into that. She liked privacy.

She liked Helena. Helena seemed like she would be good at...stuff. The kind of stuff Myka sometimes craved, after too many difficult days. Just to take a break from it all.

"Myka." Hearing her name, she almost leaped out of the chair. Helena tilted her head thoughtfully and continued, "What has you so preoccupied?"

"What?" Myka smiled nervously. "I'm not preoccupied. I'm just thinking."

"Yes," Helena stretched out the word, narrowing her eyes a little.

"Sorry," Myka shrugged, trying not to wring her hands too much. "Guess I'm preoccupied."

"You don't say."

"Sorry," Myka repeated. Helena just shook her head, turning her attention to picking out earrings.

"You seem awfully tired, darling," she continued. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to relocate?"

Myka's attention, already itching to stray from her train of thought, seized the opportunity. She faked a pout and said, "Will you carry me to the bed?"

"Not in a million years," came the dry response.

"Hey, what!"

But Helena only laughed, low and bright and Myka felt a chuckle rising despite herself. She toyed idly with the sheets upon reaching the bed, and the good humour faded. She wrapped the cool cotton around and around her wrist, forming a sort of fabric manacle and –

Communication was important in a relationship. She knew that. Everyone knew that.

"It didn't hurt, you know."

Myka winced as soon as the words left her mouth. It had come out all wrong, like she knew it would. Helena stared, hands halfway to her ears, waiting for her to explain. "I mean, it did, obviously," she clarified, willing her voice not to tremble. "Wax, hot, hurt, duh. It just –"

The bed dipped down as Helena settled next to Myka, stilling her rambling mouth with a light touch of long, cool fingers. Myka exhaled, leaning forward until she could rest her head on Helena's shoulder. It stretched her neck awkwardly, but she liked the closer contact, relished in the warmth and solidness of Helena.

She found the courage to mumble it into Helena's shoulder, " was almost..." Silently, she tried the weight of several words, choosing and testing and throwing away until – "Enjoyable. It was enjoyable."

Helena turned her head, nuzzling quietly into Myka's hair. "All right."

Myka exhaled again, quieter. Was that it? Well. That wasn't so bad. The sky hadn't fallen, the world kept turning and her cheeks weren't peeling off from sheer redness. It could definitely have been worse. Helena could have said something.

But what did it mean that she hadn't? Said something, that is. Shouldn't she have? It wasn't exactly an everyday occurrence, your girlfriend admitting to having tingly feelings about hot wax.

Myka frowned. Yes, she was pretty sure Helena should be saying something, not pressing tiny kisses to the side of her face. (Which, while enjoyable, were causing Myka more than a bit of what-does-it-all-mean anxiety.)

Could it be that she hadn't understood? Myka raised her head a little and found Helena watching her intently, slowly passing the tip of a tongue over red lips. Myka shivered. Helena ghosted over Myka's bottom lip with her thumb, stroking Myka's cheek with the other. She looked coyly at Myka, about to say something, when Myka placed a kiss to the tip of her thumb, sucking it part of the way into her mouth. Helena's breath caught satisfyingly and Myka waited for Helena to lean in and press their mouths together.

She tugged at Helena, pulling her forward so that Helena's weight was on her, so that Helena's legs straddled her, so that she was neatly pinned underneath the comforting press of Helena's body. Myka relaxed, sinking into the soft bed while Helena settled above her, mouth insistent but playful – until it wasn't anymore.

The hand against her cheek slipped down to tangle in her hair and sharply tugged Myka's head up, until Helena was satisfied with the angle. She licked deep into Myka's mouth, like it belonged to her, like she was going to take and take until Myka had nothing left to give – and then she was going to take more, take everything and ruin her.

And, God, she wanted to be ruined.

Myka drew in ragged bursts of air, chest heaving, as Helena moved slickly below her jaw, as Helena sucked heated skin between sharp teeth and marked it hers.

Okay. So. Helena understood. She definitely understood.

Except maybe she didn't because then Helena sat up, straddling Myka's sides and Myka groaned deeply at the loss.

"Tell me," Helena ordered, "what you need."

Myka's hands fisted helplessly into Helena's shirt. God, after the day she'd had – she needed Helena, she needed to not think, just for a little bit – "Please," was what Myka managed. "Please, I -"

Helena could move very quickly. Helena was deceptively strong. Myka knew this, Myka had always known this, but it was still a surprise when Helena managed to disentangle their limbs, pull Myka into a sitting position, and put her own hands in appropriate places, all just before Pete burst into their hotel room, singing carols at the top of his lungs.

" It's beginning to look a lot like– not Christmas! Not Christmas!" He yelped, covering his eyes. Pete almost fell over backwards as he felt desperately for the doorway with his free hand. He peeked through his fingers, an odd mixture of aggrieved and horrified. "Can't you put a sock on the door like everyone else?"

"How did you even get the key?" Myka shouted in exasperation, smoothing down her hair.

Pete chose to ignore the question. "Artie thinks he knows where Levesque is."

"Is he certain this time?" Helena asked, reaching around Myka for her boots.

"That's what I said!" Pete replied, pointing triumphantly at Helena. "He yelled at me." The expression on his face was not unlike that of a chastised five year old.

Claudia sprinted in, just barely managing to skid to a stop behind Pete. Her arms windmilled comically at her sides before Pete turned to steady her with the ease of long practice.

"Oh, guys, I'm so glad you're here! All of you. Here. Not interrupting at all." Myka aimed a withering glare at the two oblivious agents. Helena pursed her lips, tugging reprovingly at the cuff of Myka's sleeve.

The sarcasm was lost on Claudia. "Steve got her!"

"Steve got her?" Helena and Myka repeated in unison. Even Pete was caught off-guard.

"Levesque? You sure?" he insisted.

"Yup! Has her right now."

"And my car?" Myka asked hopefully, sitting up straighter.

"Um." Claudia winced. "Totaled." Myka's face fell and Claudia quickly backtracked. "Well, I mean, maybe totaled is a harsh word, but...I mean. Yeah."

Myka groaned, letting her head thud hard against Helena's shoulder.

The last see ya! filtered through the doorway of the inn and Myka glared into the book she was supposed to be reading.

The one time she kind of wanted her family to stick around and annoy her while she was doing something quiet, and everyone decided to work on inventory or go get ice cream in Univille.


"Myka! Could you come up here a minute?"

At least Helena hadn't left, Myka thought. But she had locked herself up in the bedroom – Myka's bedroom – and point-blank refused to allow Myka inside.

She couldn't imagine what she'd done to make the universe hate her this much.

"Hello," Helena said when Myka finally trudged up the stairs. She pushed off the wall she'd been leaning against and stretched to place a kiss on the corner of Myka's mouth.

"Hey," Myka replied, feeling better already. It was absolutely insane how easily this woman affected her mood, she thought happily. "Can I go into my room now?"

"My poor Myka," Helena purred. "You have had such a trying day," Myka laughed a little at the pout, so at odds with the predatory way Helena circled her. "Luckily, I know just what to do to make it all better. Give me a second more, darling." With that, she vanished into Myka's bedroom once again, leaving the agent alone in the hallway.


Myka heaved a sigh, giving up on ever understanding Helena. Was she just supposed to stand out here?

"All right!" Helena called, just as the faint strains of an unknown song wafted from the bedroom, slow and pulsating and seductive. "You're allowed to come in now."

Myka considered the door for a moment, eyebrow raised. Helena sounded equal parts excited and mischievous and that had never boded too well for Myka. And then there was the music. The mood music.

She pushed the door open a crack and promptly slammed it shut.

Then she opened it again, affirmed that she had seen what she had thought she'd seen, and slammed it shut once more.

"Myka," Helena was laughing as she pulled the door open. "What on earth?"

With the door spread wide behind Helena, she couldn't avoid the sight of the room; the a large cloth on the floor, the bucket of water...and the whole room was cast in the warm glow of candles. Many candles. Candles. Wax. Candles.

Myka's brain nearly short circuited.

"I – Helena, I've never actually done it before," she explained rapidly, the words tripping over with each other on their way out of her mouth. "It's all kinda been a sort of a private, only-when-I'm-really-really-tired kind of fantasy, I don't even know what I should," Myka gestured fruitlessly with her hands. "Be doing."

"Ah, but therein lies the beauty of it all," Helena stroked Myka's hair. "I know exactly what you should be doing. I know exactly – " The hand in her hair tightened and Myka's stomach clenched nervously. "How you should be doing it." Myka bit her lip and Helena smiled encouragingly, letting her hand drop to her side once again.

"Allow me to do this for you," she said quietly.

A single nod of her head. That was all it took.

"This is a protective layer of sorts," Helena whispered, voice hot and smoky in Myka's ear. Myka trembled beneath her, the drop cloth foreign and impossibly cold at her back, especially compared to the pure heat emanating from the candle hovering maybe eighteen inches above her torso. (She still wasn't completely recovered from the sensual massage Helena had administered earlier – The oil helps the wax come off easier, she had promised.)

"Pure paraffin wax," Helena went on. "It will diffuse the heat across your body."

Myka nodded mutely, remembering how Helena had tested the candle on herself first – Absolutely perfect, darling. But I know it will look so much better on you and arousal pooled between her legs.

The first drop fell.

She sucked in a breath as it spattered onto her stomach, lit up her vision with blinding white. Another fell, and another, quick and bright pinpricks of heat tenderly searing her body.

Myka gasped and tried to stay still even as her blood simmered and boiled under the assault. She watched, head raised at an awkward angle, as the wax licked down the trembling planes of her belly until it met Helena's thighs and cooled. After the initial flare of pain, the coagulating wax felt...soothing, which was unexpected, but nice. Really nice, Myka thought, letting her head fall back.

The process was messy, too. In no time at all, Helena's hands were painted with hardened rivulets of wax. She looked dangerous and beautiful and so very focused.

"I want -" Myka husked, tugging ineffectually at her restraints – silk scarves, lovingly knotted above her head.

"I understand," Helena said, running a finger down Myka's side. Myka whimpered, a half-choked little noise that tickled the back of her throat. She loved Helena's voice like this; low, dangerous, practically a purr. Then a drop fell on the sensitive skin of her breast and Myka surprised herself with a loud moan.

Helena smirked and without warning slipped cool fingers inside her, curling in as Myka arched off the floor. "You," she stated, watching the candle rather than Myka's fluttering eyes and parted lips. "Have been wanting this for quite some time."

"Please, I -"

Helena withdrew instantly.

"Such fuss." Helena whispered, pinching a hardened nipple with wet fingers. Myka's entire body twitched; she blinked wide-eyed into the face of a dark angel, haloed by the golden glow of flickering flames. "You wouldn't want me to forbid you from speaking, would you?"

Myka shook her head, making a concerted effort to still the trembling of her body.

A new candle, one recently extinguished, hovered above her breast and she sunk her teeth into her lower lip, just barely remembering Helena's honey-coated threat in time. A bright hot splash of wax landed, right above her nipple, and Myka whimpered, long and drawn out. Helena growled at that, squeezing her hip roughly. Myka shook, all over, but that didn't shake Helena's aim; she let another drop fall, directly over top the previous and a rough, guttural sound left Myka as the heat of the wax travelled deeper into her, igniting her from within.

Helena's nails scratched Myka's hip again and she moaned quietly. "Look how pretty you are," she murmured.

Another drop fell, stung, and faded into bliss – again and again and with every drop, all the things that burdened Agent Myka Bering were rendered obsolete and irrelevant; Helena stripped them away and left in her place a woman, just a woman – someone who could only feel, who didn't have any thoughts or worries outside of this gorgeous pain.

Myka bit her lip harder, trying to avoid even sighing.

"And so intent on pleasing me, I see." Helena drawled. "How I appreciate that."

The candle meandered above her body, like Helena couldn't decide where to let the wax fall next.

"Close your eyes," Helena said quietly. There was a hand at her shoulder then, sweeping away an errant curl. "You'll like it, the anticipation."

It wasn't an order, necessarily, but Myka obeyed eagerly. A low chuckle, and then drip drip drip in a straight line right between her breasts. Myka's eyes flew open, like that might help her get enough oxygen into her lungs.

Helena allowed another drop to fall, below her navel, and Myka blew out a breath she didn't know she had been holding.

It went on for some time like this, and Helena cycled through two more candles before –

"I think that's enough for now."

What? Myka's eyes snapped open. But she was fine, she could keep going. It was starting to hurt a little more than it used to, but that was to be expected, wasn't it?

"No, I know," Helena cut off her protests easily. "But, darling, you've never done this before."

That was true, but –

"You underestimate how taxing the removal is on the senses. I don't want to overwhelm you; I have plans for you yet."

She reached into the bucket – it didn't contain water after all, but ice cubes. Lots of ice cubes. And a knife, with a wetly gleaming blade.

Smirking, Helena pressed a cube down onto the wax and Myka sucked in a breath at the contrast of the still-hot wax and the absolute chill of the ice.

Oh. Oh, wow.

The opposing sensations were astonishing in their intensity. Like ripping off a band-aid and scratching at a sunburn at the same time. Her body couldn't quite decide whether it was enjoying itself or not, and so she arched and flinched in equal measure as Helena scraped a wet blade over the hard wax and the soft skin below. Myka's head pushed into the floor and she groaned as Helena reached for another ice cube.

"I'm chilling the wax further." God, her voice was like sex. "It will come off easier now. Not to mention you seem to enjoy the contrast."

Myka made a sound that could be taken as affirmation. She stared at the ceiling, counting Helena's breaths and the pattern of her fingers on Myka's skin and marvelled at the pounding between her legs. Helena hadn't even touched her properly, but already she was aching.

Helena ripped away a particularly large piece of wax and Myka couldn't even cry out as she felt it blaze across her skin like white fire. Belatedly, she panted for breath – maybe Helena had a point after all. The knife clinked with the ice cubes in the bucket and Myka shivered, already anticipating the next touch of the blade on her bare skin.

Myka moaned, feeling her world shrink down to this moment, this second, with Helena.

"Would you like me to take you to bed?"

Myka's head, with great effort, lolled in the direction of that soft voice. Helena smoothed back the hair matted to Myka's forehead, looking tenderly down at her.

It took a few tries to convince her throat to work again. "I'm – I. Helena." Helena pressed kisses in the wake of gentle hands. "Cold. And, and-"

Not for the first time, Myka was grateful for how well Helena knew her. She straddled Myka's hips easily, and Myka shivered at the feel of her, too cold after the burn of the wax, too hot after the chill of the ice cubes.

Clever fingers stroked slowly at the wet heat between her legs and Myka – or Helena, maybe both – moaned softly, before all thought was obliterated as Helena brushed Myka's breasts with her knuckles.

Intellectually, Myka had known that the wax would make her skin sensitive, even after it was removed. What she hadn't expected however, was how long this particular effect would linger.

Helena danced featherlight touches over her stomach, her breasts, and Myka's mouth dropped open in a soundless moan. The woman above her laughed delightedly, bending to press a fond kiss to Myka's chin. Black hair fell silkily on exposed shoulders, tickling the skin and raising goosebumps instantaneously. Myka arched, rubbing against Helena, delighting in the the jolt of something that wasn't quite pain travelling through her body at every brush of skin.

"Patience," Helena said, pulling back. Helena's skin was flushed and her gaze dark and bright and nearly tangible. Myka longed for her touch. She wanted Helena to run her hands over every inch for her body, scratch down her neck, rub roughly at her breasts; she wanted her to suck a nipple into her mouth and then – and then Helena laughed, grinding into Myka with a clever twist of her hips. Myka thrashed against the silk holding her down, maddened by the way Helena moved against her.

"You look," Helena continued, voice lower than Myka could ever remember hearing it. "Delectable."

With that, she surged downwards and drew a tantalizingly firm nipple between her lips, like she had read Myka's mind. For her part, Myka let out a strangled shout as the light sucking of Helena's mouth pulsed through her body in time with her frenzied heartbeat, wiping away all traces of coherent thought.

"I –" Myka stopped. She needed more, something that would cement this moment for good. (Right now, Myka was just Helena's toy. Right now, she didn't have to be anything greater.) She knew what she needed, but expressing the idea into the right words seemed an insurmountable task.

Her hips jerked up at the tip of what was decidedly not Helena's fingers. Helena looked down at her, the straps dark as night against the porcelain of her hips. Myka didn't – she hadn't even noticed. Her body knew what to do though, her legs wrapped around Helena, pleaded silently for more – and received it.

Helena moved – slowly, smoothly – into her, brushing tender spots on the way – her whole torso was a tender spot, previously branded by wax. Myka arched off the floor, and the silk ties pulled her right back down.

Myka trembled as Helena withdrew the toy leisurely, letting her feel every bump and ridge. When had they gotten one this big? she wondered briefly,

Helena moved in earnest now, thrusting in, barely letting Myka have enough time to get used to the sensation of being filled so completely before she drew away, sliding almost all the way out before sliding in again, always keeping Myka right on the precipice, never letting her fall.

Myka couldn't think, could barely move and Helena drove in over and over again like a wild thing, biting at Myka's neck, holding her hips as still as she could – pushing Myka up on the floor as she thrust in before and watching her sweat-slick body slide back down as she slipped out. Myka moaned continuously, pulling desperately against the restraints and Helena bit a nipple for her impertinence, but Myka only moaned louder and deeper, tugged harder and finally Helena gave up on anything else but ramming the dildo into Myka, taking her, fucking her like she deserved.

Helena kissed her again, hot and possessive, and Myka finally let go of everything – she had to, she couldn't focus on anything but the taste and the feel of Helena in her and around her and in her ears the music Helena had on repeat rose in a pounding crescendo, slithering seductively down her spine and adding fuel to the fire Helena stoked between Myka's legs.

Myka didn't hear herself scream as she plunged over the edge; diving or dropping into the tantalizing depths below, cocooned in the safety of Helena's embrace.

Afterwards, Helena lay propped up on an elbow, watching Myka carefully. Myka felt the gaze, though she couldn't bring herself to open her eyes. Blindly, she reached out with her hand – when had Helena freed her? – found what she was seeking and clasped it tightly.

"Thank you," she whispered.

Helena curled around Myka languorously, trailing featherlight touches over her shoulder, her arm, her belly. Myka twitched. She didn't say anything for a long while, then raised herself up on her elbow again, squeezing Myka's hand tightly.

"You mustn't think you are in any way obligated to thank me," Helena said softly. "I would do anything for you." She leaned down to kiss Myka's brow. "You know that."

Myka sighed happily, turning into Helena. "Which is why you're carrying me back to bed, right?"

"Nice try."

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