"I can't do this," you said, removing your hands from her neck. "I'm sorry."
The first time it happened, Rowena paid it no mind. She'd written it off as shock. After all, you'd walked in on her burned to a crisp and had spent days by her side, watching her heal. Something like that would leave a mark on anyone.
But it kept happening.
It happened the second time, the third time, and every single time after that.
To say Rowena was getting suspicious would be an understatement. You had no issues sleeping beside her, hugging her when she cried, or holding her hand when you felt she needed reassurance.
The only thing, it seemed, you couldn't do was have sex with her.
Had you grown to be disgusted by her? Had you found her appalling?
Months ago she would have discarded those thoughts as nonsense, but now she couldn't help wondering. She was no more than a charred skeleton when you found her. No skin, no muscles, barely any flesh left. You were there as her body regenerated, organs growing one after the other, skin knitting itself together layer by layer. Rowena had only regained her sight a whole day later, and even then her body was a mess of third degree burns and missing patches of skin. She could only imagine what she looked like before that.
You, on the other hand, had seen it all.
The horrific images must have burned into your brain. Rowena wondered if that was what you saw whenever you laid your eyes on her.
No wonder you couldn't have sex with her, she thought, features taking on a saddened look. It had taken her a while to feel comfortable in her own skin again. If she was to have those pictures constantly on her mind, she wouldn't want to have sex with such an abomination, either.
"What's the matter?" Rowena asked, annoyance creeping into her tone.
Just like all those other times, instead of explaining, you said, "I'm not in the mood."
You plopped down next to her on the bed, eyes drawn up to the ceiling. You couldn't even look at her. How horrible has she looked to you, that you couldn't allow yourself to face her after failed attempt at sex?
Rowena clenched her fists. You should have told her the first time it happened. She understood that you wanted to spare her feelings, but she would rather know the truth than be fed constant lies.
Pain she could get over.
Lying she couldn't.
It hurt that you thought that way about her, but she couldn't change that. If you'd told her, she would have acknowledged it and eventually gotten over it. The two of you could have worked through it together.
"Do you take me for a fool?" Rowena asked, a tad harsher than she intended.
"What? Of course not!" you said.
She almost believed you.
"I know what's going on here." She sat up, eyes settling on you. "You should have just told me the truth."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Enough of this nonsense! We haven't had sex since I died."
Rowena paused for a moment. The memories were still fresh in her mind, as painful as the day they came to be. You turned your head to the side, avoiding her gaze.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you!" she ordered. You didn't listen, prompting her to sigh. "You're disgusted by me, aren't you?"
This got your attention. "What?" Sitting up, you allowed your eyes to meet hers. "No, that's–"
"I understand that it's hard for you to have sex with me after what you've seen, but you should have told me. I wouldn't have gotten mad," Rowena said. Her featured softened up, following the example of her voice. "What Lucifer did to me was… gruesome. I'm sorry you had to see it."
"Rowena, that's not it at all. I swear, it's not," you said. You reached for her hand, gently twining your fingers together. "I mean, it wasn't easy to look at you like that and not be able to help you. But I wasn't disgusted. I'm not disgusted. I swear."
"Why won't you have sex with me, then?" Rowena inquired.
What else could it be? She hadn't even playfully insulted you in months, let alone said something that would make you keep your distance. Dying horrifically had mellowed her out. She was still sassy, but she'd gone a tad softer. She craved affection more than ever. Crying came easily to her. She allowed herself to ask for help and express her feelings verbally.
You'd gotten used to the new her quite fast. Not once had you given the vibe of annoyance or anger. Not even when she woke you up in the middle of the night, kicking and screaming amidst a nightmare. One time, while you were trying to wake her up, she punched you. Even then, you remained caring and loving.
What was keeping you from her in bed?
You took a deep breath. "I'm scared." She narrowed her eyes, prompting you to elaborate. "I don't wanna hurt you."
"Hurt me? Darling, it's just sex!"
"I mean, I don't wanna cause you any pain or anything. I know I can be rough and leave bruises and scratches, and… I can't do that to you. Not after… after what happened. I just can't bring myself to hurt you."
Rowena stared. That was why you didn't want to have sex with her? You didn't want to hurt her, even if it was consensual? Rowena liked it rough; she liked to give, but also take. Waking up bruised and scratched up was far from a novelty for her. Everyone thought her as always having all the power, but there were times when all she wanted was to give it up and let you take charge. Let you run your nails down her body, let you bite her hard enough to draw blood and slap her until her head started spinning. Let you mark her as yours; your girl, your lover, your property. Let you hold her afterwards and see to her wounds with as much care as you crafted them with.
Never would she have thought you'd be scared to inflict the very pain both of you relished in.
"My sweet, wee girl," Rowena cooed, bringing her hands to your cheeks. She gave each a caress, then cupped them, the look in her eyes that of pure love and tenderness. A hard life had taught her to always expect the worst. Still, she should have given you a chance to explain before jumping to conclusions. Many in her life had betrayed her, but you weren't one of them. You would never hurt her. Your inability to had actually been the reason for this all. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"I didn't want you to think I was pitying you. I know you hate that," you replied. "And I'm not. I swear."
"I know," Rowena said.
Brutally dying had changed her to the core. She'd grown to fear her own shadow. Nightmares followed her into dreams every single night. She wouldn't leave the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and more often than not you had to be with her. Even the smallest things could trigger her; things she used to pay no mind to could now bring her down with just their existence.
You adjusted to the change in her. You remained by her side as much as possible. There was a time when Rowena would find it suffocating, but now there was nothing she'd rather do than have you constantly by her side. You'd become more protective, at times to ridiculous degrees. The old Rowena would call you out on it and demand to have her space. This mental wreck of a person welcomed it more than anything.
She never thought, though, that you would go so far as to try to protect her from yourself.
Rowena's lips curled into a small smile. "You aren't going to hurt me," she said with as much patience she could muster, like a teacher carefully explaining a complicated lesson. "What happened to me was… awful. I wish you didn't have to see it. But we can't change that, can we? What we can do is move on."
You clasped your hand over one of hers and leaned further into her touch. "It's not easy."
"It's not," she agreed. "But we have to do our best. For both our sakes. I'm still scared, Y/N. I keep seeing him everywhere. I haven't slept in months. And I know you haven't, either. He's ruined our lives. But we can't let him take everything from us. He doesn't have that right."
Lucifer has already taken her sanity. Rowena wasn't going to let him take her pleasure, too.
"You're right," you said. A few tears slid down your cheeks and Rowena wiped them away with her thumbs. "I'm sorry."
"You haven't done anything wrong."
"I should've told you."
"You're telling me now," Rowena said. "It's okay if you don't want to sleep with me. I don't intend to force you into anything. But if you're holding back for me, I want you to know that there's no need. I trust you to know my limits, just as I'm sure you trust me to know yours."
You were the only person she'd trusted in centuries. She wouldn't have exposed herself like that if she had doubts about you.
"I do," you confirmed. "I think I'm gonna need some time. It's not you, It's just…"
"I understand," Rowena said. She wasn't the only one who was traumatized. You needed time for everything to settle in, just as she had.
"But if you want, I'd like to try with you in charge," you added.
"Works for me," Rowena said, smirking.
You smiled. "Tomorrow?"
"Sure! Anything else you want to tell me?"
You thought about it for a moment.
"Just… thank you, "you said.
Rowena frowned in confusion. "For what?"
"Being nice about everything."
"I'm always nice," she said, feigning offense.
"Of course you are," you said sarcastically. Taking hold of both her hands and lowering them from your cheeks, you leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her lips. "Cuddles?"
Rowena shrugged. "Why not?"
The two of you laid down, getting into your favorite positions: you on your back, with her resting her head on your chest. You wrapped your arms around her, and she threw one arm over you. You caressed her hair, sliding your fingers through silky curls and playing with the tips. It was times like this when Rowena felt the rare sensation of safety – tucked into your protective embrace, your heartbeat a soothing melody to her ears. Lucifer could never take that from her.
He could break her, shatter her, ruin her, but he could never take away the love and devotion you felt for each other. Not even he was that powerful.