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From the Beginning

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Maya wakes up with her head on something warm that is not her pillow. It’s odd.

Her brain is fuzzy. She knows she didn’t have anything to drink the night before, so she’s not sure why it’s so fuzzy. But then she feels that her throat she scratchy too. Is she getting a cold?

Maya opens her eyes and finds them dry and itchy. They won’t focus either. But that’s because there is a mass of thick brown hair blocking their view from anything else. Maya jumps back. “No. No. No. No. No.” She mumbles before she recognizes the person in bed with her as Carina.

“Maya.” Carina sits up in bed, peeking over at Maya with one eye opened and one closed, still very sleepy.

“No.” Maya shakes her head. She tries to remember what happened last night.

“It’s alright.” Carina holds her hands out. “It’s okay.”

“No. No. No.” Maya gets out of bed and backs away from it, from Carina. She looks around the room frantically. She looks down at herself. Still in her clothes from yesterday. She runs her hands down her torso. That’s good. She looks over at Carina but can’t see what she is or isn’t wearing.

Carina catches Maya eyes. “Hey.” But it startles Maya.

Maya flinches before hurrying out of the bedroom into the bathroom. She needs to figure out what happened. All the details are fuzzy. Was she crying? Maya puts her hand around her throat and tries to clear it.

She remembers Carina showing up. She remembers her wanting sex. She remembers having to psych herself up to give Carina what she wanted. She remembered feeling like garbage during and afterwards. Maya wonders if that’s how she’s always going to feel after sex now. That gross feeling. She didn’t even get to feel good before the gross feeling took over again. And Maya doesn’t know how to get it to go away. She doesn’t know that it has since she slept with Jack. It was just buried under all her other emotions that she trying to deal with. It just resurfaced after last night, that’s all. It’s back at the top of the pile.

There’s a knock on the bathroom door. Maya flinches again. “Go away.” She mumbles.

“I will not.” Carina leans against the door. “Can I come in?” Her hand on the knob.

“No.” Maya sits on the toilet, her knees tucked to her chest, arms wrapped around them.

“I just want to make sure you are okay.” Carina says through the door.

Maya can hear the concern in Carina’s voice, and she appreciates it but- “I’m not.” She admits. There’s no use in lying to Carina.

“I’m coming in.” Carina turns the knob.

“No. Go away.” She whines. “Please.” She’s on the verge of tears again. Maya hugs her arms tighter around her legs. “Go away.” She doesn’t know if she’s talking to Carina anymore or the feelings inside herself.

“What’s wrong?” Carina kneels in front of her. She reaches out to touch Maya but doesn’t. Her hands hovering aimlessly in the air.

“I can’t tell you.” Maya shakes her head.

“I thought we were going to be honest with each other. You said you were going to talk to me about what’s bothering you.” Carina reminds her. She’s really worried about Maya right now. She knows she shouldn’t be. Not that she shouldn’t be but after everything that’s happened maybe Carina shouldn’t make it her concern. But she can’t help it.

Carina’s got her there. Maya sighs. “I don’t want to put anything else on you. This isn’t your problem. It’s my problem. I have to deal with it.”

“Maybe I can help.” Carina pleads. She just wants to help. She reaches out and wraps her arms around Maya.

“Don’t touch me.” Maya cries but doesn’t move or try to shake Carina off of her.

Carina pulls away slowly. “Maya.” She begs. “Please.”

Maya shakes her head. “I feel gross. Okay?”

“Like you need to shower. Cuz we can take a shower.” Carina needs a shower too.

“No. Carina.” Maya snaps. “I feel gross. Like repugnant. Dirty. Tainted. You’re pure and clean and I’m disgusting. My actions are vile and gross and disgusting. Gross.”

All Carina can do is stare at her. Everything makes sense now.

“I felt like that after Jack. I thought it went away but it came back last night. And I don’t want you to touch me. You shouldn’t touch me.” Maya whispers the words.

Carina opens and closes her mouth trying to say something.

“I want the feeling to go away but after last night, right now, I don’t know if it ever will.” Maya sighs and stares down at the floor. “And that’s a burden I have to carry.”

“Maya, please.”

“I’m damaged. You deserve better.”

“Maya. No.” Carina can feel Maya regressing. “No, you’re not. No, I don’t. Maya, listen to me.” She tries to get Maya to look at her, but it’s hard when she can’t touch Maya. “Maya, you made a mistake. A bad mistake but that’s all it was. It doesn’t make you gross or dirty or vile. Maya, I don’t think you’re gross.

“You don’t?” Maya looks up, a little bit of hope shining through.

Carina shakes her head. “I don’t.”

“Then why do I feel like you do.”

Carina shrugs. “Maybe you’re projecting. Maybe it’s guilt. But Maya I want to touch you, and hold you, be with you. I just can’t talk about what happened yet.” She brings this back around to last night.

Maya shakes her head. She knows it’s not fair to try to force Carina to talk about it if she can’t. And she shouldn’t have brought it up last night when she was feeling gross and used. But they are supposed to talk about stuff, and she knows she’s being a hypocrite. Maya hates all of this, right now.

“Here.” Carina pries Maya’s arms away from her legs. She’s a bit surprised that Maya lets her. But she goes slowly. She pulls each of Maya’s legs from the toilet, setting her feet on the floor. Carina stands up and holds her hands out.

Maya stares at Carina’s hands for a moment before putting her hands in them. Carina pulls her to her feet. They stand before each other. “We’ll go slow.” Carina whispers.

Maya nods and Carina takes that as a good sign. She slips her arms around Maya’s waist and pulls the blonde into an embrace. “How’s that?” It’s nothing crazy, just a simple hug.

“Okay.” Maya sighs. She lifts her arms, putting her hands on Carina’s back and allows herself to lean into Carina’s body. “Better.”

“Bene.” Carina sighs. “What can I do? I want to help. And I’m not leaving, so don’t suggest that.” She leans back to get a look at Maya’s face.

Maya closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I’m sorry I tried to get you to leave. I just keep repeating the same pattern.”

“No.” Carina wiggles a finger. “No. You don’t.” This isn’t the same Maya that she got in a fight with in the kitchen. This isn’t the same Maya that stormed out and went and slept with Jack. “You didn’t run out of here. You didn’t start yelling and screaming and go to that rage place. Maya you aren’t repeating the same pattern.”

Maya thinks about it for a minute and realizes that Carina is sort of right. Whenever there is a problem Maya always tries to run from it. Or has always tried to run from it. Literally and figuratively. But now, she’s sitting with it. Even if it feels like it’s making her crazy. “I love you.”

“And I love you.” Carina presses her lips to Maya’s forehead.

Maya furrows her brow. “And I want you to touch me and hold me, but I don’t feel like I deserve that after what I did. And last night when you- you tried to take my shirt off I felt gross, so I pulled away, retreated.”

“I understand that. But Maya you are vulnerable and brave and amazing even if you don’t feel like it right now. I admire that about you.” Carina starts to sway them back and forth a little. “This shitty thing happened.” She doesn’t want to accuse or put the blame on Maya right now. “And we have to work through that. You and me. Us. Together.”

Maya nods.

“You lean on me if you need to, and I’ll lean on you if I need to.” She rubs her hand up and down Maya’s back. “How about I start the shower? And you can hop in. The warm water will feel good, soothing, relaxing.”

Maya nods.

“Okay.” They pull apart and Maya miss the contact already.


Carina goes to the kitchen and makes some coffee while Maya is in the shower. She makes some toast and puts a little cinnamon and butter on it for herself. Carina sits at the stool at the island as she eats. She hears the shower shut off and listens for any sign of Maya but it’s relatively quiet.

She’s scrolling through the news on her phone when she hears the footsteps behind her.

“How was the shower?”

“Good. Helpful. I feel better now.”

“I’m glad. I made coffee. Would you like some?” A bit of a strange feeling passes through Carina. Here they are again in the kitchen. It’s almost like Carina never left. Like they didn’t spend any time apart. Like nothing ever happened.

“You’re amazing. Thank you. Yes.”

She’s happy that Maya is feeling better. If she’s honest, that little episode that Maya had as very scary and heartbreaking. “I made myself some toast. I hope that’s okay.”

Maya hums. It’s fine with her.

“Did you want to go out for breakfast? Or make something here?” Carina offers.

Maya goes over to the coffee and pours herself a cup and takes a drink. “So good.” She hums. “You’re so good at this.” She raises her mug.

“Italiano.” Carina smirks and points at herself.

Maya rolls her eyes. “What are your plans for the day?” She’s curious to see where things stand now with them. Maya is forever grateful that Carina is here right now. That she was still here this morning but knows that if she hadn’t come over last night that this morning wouldn’t have happened.

“Nothing much. You?” Carina leaves the day open and waits for Maya to take the lead.

“We could have breakfast. If you want. If you have time. If you don’t have anywhere you need to be.” It’s early in the day yet. That’s what happens when you wake up at the crack of dawn in a downward spiral.

“I don’t have anywhere I need to be. The only thing I have to do today is call Andrea.” Carina lifts her phone and wiggles it back and forth. “But with this, I can do that from anywhere.”

Maya nods. “Eat out or?”

Carina smirks. She could make a dirty joke but knows now is that the appropriate time. She doesn’t really feel like sitting in public with Maya right now either. “I could make French toast.”

A small smile slowly forms on Maya’s lips. “Carina’s famous French toast.”

Carina smiles too. “Si.”

Maya thinks back to the breakfast date they had at the restaurant where Carina fed her some of her French toast. That was good but Maya expects Carina’s to be better. “I’d like that.”

“Do you have all the ingredients?” Carina slides off of the stool effortlessly. She goes to the fridge to see if there are eggs. “It’s still weird to me that Americans keep their eggs in the fridge.”

“You don’t put eggs in the fridge in Italy?” Maya is shocked by this. “Won’t they go bad?”

“No.” Carina pulls the cartoon from the fridge. “You know why?” Maya shakes her head. “Here, they wash the eggs removing their protective coating. They also pasteurize them, so they need to be refrigerated.”

“Why?” Maya asks.

Carina takes a step towards Maya and bops her on the nose with her index finger. “Because in the US egg laying chickens are kept in horrible conditions, and they have diseases, so they need to wash the eggs and pasteurized them.”

“Gross.”

“Si. I like to buy eggs from farmer’s market, if I can. Not that I eat a lot of eggs. Then I can ask where they come from.” Carina explains her process.

Maya hums taking in this new information.

“Where’s your skillet?”

The question breaks Maya from her thoughts. Thoughts of eggs. Thoughts of Carina’s diet. Thoughts of the farmer’s market. Thoughts of chickens. “Under here.” She sets her mug down and pulls the item from a lower cupboard. “Do you want help?”

“Only if you want to help.” Carina smiles gently over at Maya. “You could get some fruit out and rinse it.”

Maya has strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. She doesn’t think bananas are the right choice for the French toast, so she gets out the strawberries and rinses them. She lets them drain and dry in the sink and takes her coffee mug back in her hands. Maya mostly just stands there, leaning against the counter, and watches as Carina effortlessly moves about her kitchen.

“Ta da.” Carina presents the plate. “Sit down.” She nods at the stool.

Maya sits and Carina puts the plate in front of her. “Try it.”

“Aren’t you going to have any?” She looks up at Carina.

Carina smirks. “I already had toast, remember?” She wiggles her eyebrows. Carina is excited for Maya to try her French toast. She hopes, hopes, hopes that Maya likes it. “But I might steal a piece or two or yours.”

Maya cuts a piece and takes a bite. She hums as she chews. “Amazing.”

Pleased, Carina smiles softly. “I’m glad you like it.”

Maya thought Carina was going to cook breakfast for both of them but now she feels bad that she’s the only one eating. She cuts another piece and puts it into her mouth. While she’s chewing she cuts a piece and holds it out across the little island that separates them. Carina grins and leans forward, opening her mouth. She pulls the piece from the fork with a smile and chews it. “Grazie, bella.”

Maya looks down and blushes a little at the way Carina thanks her. She moves a strawberry around on the plate with her fork aimlessly.

“I’m sorry.” Maya feels like a broken record. She knows she behaved poorly last night. It’s no excuse. “I just keep fucking this up. I should have talked to you.”

Carina hums. “You should have.” She reaches out and pinches a strawberry from Maya’s plate. “But you didn’t run away from me this time.” She points the strawberry at Maya before popping it into her mouth.

“What I did wasn’t much better.” Maya scoffs. “I completely shut down.”

“Well, shall we try to move past it or keep lingering on it? Carina raises an eyebrow at Maya, folding her arms across her chest.

“Move past it. Though that might take a while. I don’t know if I can- I don’t know-“ Maya sighs, frustrated she can’t get the words out.

“I’m not going to force you to have sex with me Maya.” Carina shakes her head, irritated. “When you’re ready.”

“Are you mad?”

Carina turns around, her back to Maya, balls her fists, and growls. She throws her hands in the air and spins around to face Maya again. “Yes, I’m mad. No, I’m not mad.” She growls again. “I know.” She waves her hands around in the air. “I know. That doesn’t make sense.” She steps forward and puts her hands on the edge of the island so she doesn’t swing them around in the air in frustration. Carina takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. “I just wish-“ She opens her eyes and stares at Maya. “Nevermind.”

Maya takes stock of Carina, her mood, her temper, how she tries to hold it all inside. She’s never seen her mad. She’s never seen her like this. “Tell me.” Maya says firmly. “Tell me I’m an asshole. You know you want to. It’s okay. Tell me.”

Carina narrows her eyes at Maya. “That’s not what I want to say.” She clenches her jaw.

“I’m frustrated Maya. That’s all.”

Maya nods.

“And mad.” Carina grinds her teeth together.

Maya points to herself. “At me?”

Carina sighs. “Yes. I told you last night that I was mad, and sad, and disappointed.”

“You did. And thank you for telling me, so I know.” Maya takes another piece of her French toast to her mouth. “You can be mad. You deserve to be mad, actually. I get it.”

Carina shakes her head. “And you’re fine with that?”

Maya shrugs. “In truth, I expected you to yell at me at some point. But that hasn’t happened.”

Carina shakes and runs her hands through her hair. “I just- I don’t want to. My dad would yell at my mamma all the time. I don’t want to yell at you.”

“Oh.” Maya smiles empathically for Carina. “Well, we have that in common then.” She cuts another piece of French toast and stabs it with her fork and holds it up in front of Carina’s mouth. “What do you want to do then? Scream into a pillow, maybe. Or just scream. Like out loud.” Maya suggests, still holding the fork up. “You don’t run or work out. So-“ She’s talking out loud, trying to find a way for Carina to release her pent up frustrations.

Carina stares at the fork for a moment before leaning forward and taking the bite that Maya is offering her. She doesn’t want to scream. She doesn’t want to scream at Maya. She knows, especially after last night, that it could be a traumatic trigger for Maya.

“Can I take a shower?” Carina asks.

Maya tilts her head to the side, appraising the Italian across from her. “Go ahead.”

Without another word, Carina walks out of the kitchen to go shower. She goes in and starts the water. She gets in and starts rambling to herself, somewhat loudly, in Italian. Her hands gestating wildly as she speaks. She talks through her frustration in Italian. And then again in English.

Carina comes back into the kitchen and Maya is washing the dishes from breakfast.

“How was your shower?” Maya asks.

“Fine.” Carina bobs her head back and forth. “Good. I got rid of some of my frustration.”

“Good then. Great.”

If Maya heard Carina ‘venting’ then she doesn’t say anything about it.

There’s a weird energy between them now. Both of them can feel it. They communicate in little nods, and short sentences. It might just be a matter of sitting with what’s happened at this point and letting everything settle.

“Is it alright if I hang out here today?” Carina tries to sound as casual as possible, but she wants to keep an eye on Maya today. And, frankly, she doesn’t want to be alone either.

“Sure.” Maya doesn’t really care either way. She was just going to hang out at home and feel gross. It’s not exciting, but if Carina wants to stick around that’s fine with her. She knows she shouldn’t be so apathetic about it, but Maya is tired and doesn’t have the energy to put much effort into anything.

“Do you have any board games we could play? Or a puzzle?” Carina suggests.

Maya looks over at her, curious. “But you hate puzzles.”

“Hate is a strong word. More like, your militaristic rules make it sound so un-fun.” Carina shrugs.

Maya stares at her, mouth hanging open.

“A board game then.” They need to do something to pass the time. Carina would prefer it be something where they can still interact and not something like staring at their phones in silence.

Maya shakes her head lightly at the cute Italian who has her speechless about puzzles. “I have a few classics somewhere, I think. Monopoly. Operation.”

“Oooh. I love Operation.” That gets a happy little smile from Carina.

Maya giggles and bites her lip. She feels so much lighter than earlier when she woke up. Carina’s presence has something to do with that, she knows. Her reassurances too. She still feels weird and gross but not as weird and gross as earlier.

They play both games. Carina is all too serious during Operation. She concentrates and bites her lower lip between her teeth nearly the entire time. Maya watches her, enraptured, and endeared at the doctor across the dining room table from her.

Lunch is protein shakes and turkey wraps.

They watch a movie on the couch. Each sitting on separate ends of the couch. Maya lays down about halfway through, losing the battle with her tired body, her feet propped up in Carina’s lap. Carina rests a hand over them, but that hand remains stationary where it lays. Maya falls asleep and doesn’t wake up until well after the movie is over.

It’s quiet in the room. The tv has gone dark. Carina didn’t dare get up but couldn’t reach the remote and eventually the tv shut itself off from inactivity. She’s been on her phone ever since.

Carina would love nothing more than to cuddle in bed or on the couch with Maya. She craves that physical contact. She’s always been someone who enjoys having someone to hold and being held. That physical bond. She knows though that Maya can’t right now and that makes her sad.

While she can look past what Maya did, apparently Maya can’t. It wasn’t the physical cheating of it that hurt Carina, it was the emotional. It was the broken trust. It was the feeling of betrayal. It was the break of their bond. Not so much the physical act.

They sit at opposite ends of to the couch again after Maya wakes up. Carina turns and sits pretzel style sideways on the couch, facing Maya. “Have you had any interesting calls the last few days?” She knows how to get Maya talking. Just ask her about work.

Maya thinks back. “We had a call where there was a kid stuck on a go-cart that was going around in circles and wouldn’t stop.”

“They called you for that?”

“Well, the police were there but they didn’t know what to do. And if they did something to stop the cart, they were worried that the kid would be hurt, so they wanted us there. So that was a bit unusual.” Maya hums. “The kid was alright though. I bit of road rash on his elbow but that’s it.”

“That’s good.”

“Some fires. Car accidents. The usual stuff.”

“Do you like fire?” Carina asks. She remembers reading about all the fire stuff Maya has bookmarked on her laptop.

Maya tilts her head to the side. She shifts and sits sideways, her left leg curled at the knee and up on the couch cushion. “Do I like fire? That’s such a strange question.”

“Is it?” Carina rubs her hands over her own knees briefly.

“Well, yeah. Who likes fire? Fire is dangerous. Deadly. Fire is bad in the wrong hands. Arsonist. But do I like fire? I guess I have to say yes. I have to say that it excites me when we pull up to a fire. The adrenaline pumps through my body. It’s such a high. We call them firegasms.” Maya’s jaw drops. “Oh my god.” Her face lights up and she bites her bottom lip. “I forgot about that.”

Carina grins along with Maya. “You know that’s an actual thing, right?”

Maya wrinkles up her face. “No. We just made that up. It’s a joke.”

Carina shakes her head with a silly little grin. “I would know.” She points at herself.

“Oh my god.” Maya realizes Carina is right. She runs her hands over her face.

“It’s when-“

Maya cuts her off by putting her hands on top of Carina’s knees. “I know.” She doesn’t need Carina to explain it.

Carina nods, trying desperately not to look down at Maya’s hands on her knees. “So, you’ve never encountered a scene and found someone, an arsonist, uh, getting off on the fire they started?”

Maya’s eyes get big at the thought. “No.” She shakes her head.

Carina giggles. Maya leans back against the arm of the couch, her hands slipping from Carina’s knees back to her lap.

“So, tell me more about your firegasms.” Carina grins. She really wants to hear this.

Maya frowns. “It’s not like that. It’s just a rush. A high.”

“Not unlike an orgasm.” Carina notes.

Maya rolls her eyes. “This isn’t a fair discussion.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re the orgasm doctor.” Maya flips her hand in Carina’s direction.

“You’ve never complained before.” Carina smirks.

Maya sighs. “No.” It’s a weird juxtaposition. What they’re talking about verses Maya inability to have any physical intimacy right now. But maybe it will help.

“I think you give me too much credit though.” Carina nods at Maya. “It was just a study.”

“And what do you do when you study? You learn.” Maya counters. She smirks a little now too.

“True.” Carina sighs.

Maya lays the side of her head against the back of the couch. “Stay here tonight.”

“Maya.” Carina sighs. She mimics Maya by resting her head on the back of the couch. “Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

Maya shrugs.

“I have to work in the morning.” Carina uses it as an excuse, even though it’s never been a problem in the past.

Maya sighs sadly. “I just-“ She looks down at her lap. “I feel like such a baby. And I sleep better when you’re around.”

Carina reaches forward and dares to put her hand on Maya’s lower leg. “Hey. Look at me.” Maya looks up. “You’re not a baby. You’re going through a lot. It happens to everyone at times. But you know what?” Maya shakes her head. “You are my bambina.” Carina smiles warmly.

Maya thinks she might cry because of wonderful Carina and her selfless love.

“I think it’s better if I go home tonight.” Carina feels a little guilty about last night and the trauma that it induced in Maya. But if it hadn’t happened last night, it was likely to happen at some point. It will be healthier for their relationship if she goes home. They need to slow down a little bit and takes things one step at a time. She stayed with Maya all day and can see that she’s alright. Not great, but alright.

Maya nods.

“But maybe you could invite me over for dinner tomorrow after I’m done with work.”

Maya nods eagerly. She likes that idea. “Okay.”

Carina waits. She raises an expectant eyebrow. “Are you going to ask me now or-?”

Maya shakes her head and offers a bashful little smile. “Tomorrow.”

Carina chuckles. “Okay, bella.” She pushes herself up from the couch. “I will see you.”

Maya nods, not moving from her spot as Carina approaches.

“Can I kiss you?” Carina asks, putting a hand on the back of the couch and leaning over Maya.

Maya nods again.

“Cat got your tongue?”

“You’re too good to me.” Maya finds her voice.

“Maybe.” Carina winks. “Or maybe I’m just the right amount of good.” She leans in and presses a soft kiss to Maya’s lips. “You deserve good thing, Maya.”

Maya sucks in a shaky breath. “I- I love you.”

Carina hums. “I love you too.”

Maya reaches out and grabs a fistful of Carina’s shirt in her hand, not letting her pull away just yet. They linger in each other’s faces, breathing each other’s air on a cycle. Maya’s eyes shift between Carina’s lips and her eyes. Carina just watches Maya and her indecision.

“Kiss me again.” Maya finally whispers.

Carina smiles into the kiss. She keeps it soft, gentle. A press of her lips to Maya’s before pulling away. She doesn’t go far though. Carina puts a hand on the side of Maya’s head and presses a kiss to her forehead. “I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but you’re going to be alright. You’ll figure it all out. I know you will.”

She sucks in a deep breath. “Thank you.” Maya whispers.

Carina hums and nods. “Now, I must go. You, go to bed. Get some sleep. Don’t set an alarm for the morning. Don’t get up early. Don’t go for a run. Let yourself rest.” Carina knows all too well that emotional struggles can make you physically exhausted.

“I will.”

“Bene.” She presses another kiss to the top of Maya’s head. “Ti amo, bambina. Ti amo.”

Maya closes her eyes. There’s something so comforting about the gentle tone of Carina’s voice. “I love you.” She barely whispers.

Carina takes a step back. Maya still has her fist in her shirt. Carina shimmy’s her shoulders and Maya lets go with a bashful little smile.

Maya watches Carina leave. She sighs and closes her eyes after the door closes. She takes a minute to collect herself before getting up from the couch and going to bed.