Harrow needs sleep very badly.
Not right this second. She got a solid five hours less than a day ago, and she’s managed more with less, but her schedule is packed tight this semester. The only place she can make any cuts without sacrificing her GPA is during her allotted sleeping hours. Last year’s finals had been an endurance test, Harrow sleeping a collective eight hours spread out over seven days, and the results had been. Not Good.
So this year she is determined to keep her sleep time sacred. She has invested in an eye mask. She has downloaded a soothing white noise app. She will sleep if it kills her.
Which is why she now finds herself standing in Gideon Nav’s living room in the early afternoon, still wearing her study outfit of pajama pants and a ratty old shirt for a band she doesn’t even like, handing over the still-warm corpse of her trusted laptop.
Gideon, dressed in black denim pants and a loose-fitting gym tank top like a person for whom day and night have not lost all meaning, prods at it to no effect. She digs a power cord out of a side-table drawer and plugs it in. Still nothing. At one point, she brings the side edge of the laptop to her nose and sniffs it. It’s after this that she says, “My guess is the motherboard’s fried.”
That does not sound good. “Can you fix it?”
“I can give you a recommendation for a new machine. That’s about it.”
“Fuck!” Harrow blurts in an angry whisper. Her hands are starting to shake.
“Buck up. It’s not like you can’t afford it, Princess.”
Harrow sneers at Gideon, her shaky hands balling into fists. “If I wanted to get a new one I wouldn’t have come to you, Griddle. Thank you for wasting my time.” She reaches to take the laptop back, even if it’s apparently junk now. It’s her junk and she’s not feeling charitable enough to let Nav strip it for parts.
“Jeez, don’t kill the messenger. What’s the big deal? It was already pretty ancient.”
“I have twelve hours worth of research paper on this laptop, you ass! If it’s a brick I have to reconstruct all of it and pray that I can still finish before the deadline without derailing the rest of my finals.”
“Have you heard of a little thing called the cloud? Back up your files! I thought paying all that money for school was supposed to make you smart .”
Harrow’s cheeks get hot and she huffs out a breath through her nose. “I save at the end of my work sessions. I was marathoning, and when I tried to save it shut down on me.”
Gideon shakes her head, but her shoulders begin to slump. “Why didn’t you say this was a retrieval? I should be able to pull out your hard drive and copy its contents over. And I can loan you a laptop if you don’t want to have to go out and buy a new one right away.”
“You can save my work?” Hope clings to Harrow’s words like fingertips on a cliff’s edge.
“Probably. Assuming there’s no damage to the drive itself. Let me open it up.” Gideon takes the laptop back to her bedroom/workstation. Harrow follows, watching over her shoulder like a nervous parent. Gideon’s poorly trained monster of a dog perks up in its crate where it had been stowed away for Harrow’s benefit. The creature hates Harrow, for no reason she can fathom, and as a result she harbors no great fondness for the beast herself. It barks, and Harrow’s spine goes rigid. Gideon makes soothing sounds at the dog until it settles again, but it still eyes Harrow with a low growl.
"This'll take a little bit,” Gideon says, sitting down again at her work desk. “You can go watch TV or something if you want. Remote's on the coffee table."
Nav probably doesn't want her hovering any more than Harrow would want Gideon tapping her shoulder in class, and she is actually doing Harrow a favor, so she retreats back to the living room, a new wave of tension rising to replace the one that Gideon had soothed with her optimism. Harrow can't depend on this working. Hopefully it will, and she'll only be out the couple of hours, but if not, she has to start rewriting her schedule yesterday.
But her schedule is on her laptop (with a streamlined iteration accessible on her phone, but this kind of overhaul really needs the whole picture). So she sits down on Gideon's sofa, picking absently at a loose thread in her pants.
Harrow takes the remote, clicking on the tv and--
The screen comes to life in media res on two figures, both in states of considerable undress. One looks to be a woman, robust with broad shoulders and thick arms to go with her appealingly soft middle, reclining on a pile of cushions wearing nothing but a pair of lensless costume glasses and a lacy camisole bra hiked up over the ample swell of her breasts. Her warm, auburn-brown hair is swept to one side, tumbling over the flushed bronze of her shoulder and exposing a patch that's been buzzed close to her scalp over one ear.
Her face is pulled into a grimace of pleasure thanks to, Harrow guesses, the efforts of the second figure. This one is willowy, lean and flat where the other is enticingly soft, clad in a pair of skin-tight silver bike shorts. Their hair is almost as short as Harrow's and dyed a deep purple, mussed like someone has been running fingers through it, pale ochre skin dotted all over with bright and stunningly detailed tattoos. The ink, Harrow thinks, adds some interest to the stark and unglamorous lines of their thin body.
The second figure faces away from the camera, positioned so that the lens can focus on their hand, two fingers on which are currently plunged knuckle-deep inside the cunt of the first figure, flexing with some effort while their other hand clutches at the wide, trembling expanse of their scene partner's thigh.
The first few seconds of video are quiet enough that Harrow wonders for a stunned moment if the audio is muted, but then the beautiful brunette moans loud enough that Harrow jumps in her seat on Gideon's well-worn couch. This is followed shortly by the sound of small tools clattering in the next room, and then Gideon is there in the entrance to the living room, her eyes wide and darting from the screen to Harrow and back again.
"Shit!" she says, and snatches the remote out of Harrow's hand, fumbling to hit a button. She manages to pause the video and then stands in front of the screen, a human barrier to shield Harrow's eyes from the scene.
"I'm so sorry," Gideon says, holding out her hands in a woeful effort to block more of the screen. "If you turn off the dvd player in the middle of something it automatically resumes when you turn it back on--last night--I completely forgot." She laughs a little helplessly, and through her own embarrassment Harrow can find a sliver of appreciation for the darkness in Gideon’s cheeks.
Harrow is embarrassed though. By her hesitancy to turn it off once she realized what she was watching, and by the fact that of course this happens here, at Gideon’s house, of all places. Nav has been a thorn in Harrow's side for nearly two decades, and she's made startlingly little progress sorting out her feelings for the obnoxiously gorgeous asshole in that time.
She is a friend in the sense that she doesn't work with Harrow, and isn't related to her by blood or any legally binding paperwork, but she knows about half of Harrow's secrets, and Harrow suspects she knows all of Nav's. More to the point, she's always just--there. Their own friend-circles always manage to get tangled, even though Harrow is not what one would call a social butterfly. At a given social gathering they are equally likely to pointedly ignore each other as they are to start hurling insults. But Harrow still paid for Gideon's dog to get emergency surgery a year ago when she had walked in on a tearful, panicked Nav recounting to their mutual friend the vet's prognosis. And Gideon had gotten Harrow home safe and sound when she drank way too much at the end of last semester's finals week, finding her stumbling the wrong direction down her street. (She does not remember that night clearly, but is often mortified by her suspicion that she was trying to find her way to Nav's house in order to drunkenly confess God knows what. They did end up spending that night together, Gideon sleeping on the floor next to Harrow's bed, keeping watch to make sure she didn't have alcohol poisoning.)
People who don't know them well enough tend to assume they're exes. Harrow wishes. Then at least the sickening roil of conflicting emotions she feels at the sight of those absurd golden eyes would make sense.
But instead they're not-friends who for whatever reason only end up dealing with each other at their best or their worst, nothing in between.
Harrow does what she always does when she's embarrassed and stares back at Gideon with closed off disdain.
"Porn on DVD, Nav? Really? Are you 80 years old?"
"Hey, physical media is a crucial element of rare and historically relevant film preservation."
Harrow stares up at her, unconvinced. That scene looked like it could've been filmed last week at the hotel down the street. Citizen Kane it is not.
Gideon tilts her head, leaning into that uneven smile, making it even more crooked. "It was a gift," she says, shrugging. "Not my fault it's actually a good one."
Harrow does not try to work out which of Gideon’s acquaintances would be most likely to give pornography as a gift. " That's what you call good? Two strangers in tacky underwear rutting against each other like animals?"
"I'm sure it doesn't hold a candle to whatever pretentious nonsense passes for smut in your world, with its artfully lit nipples representing the ennui of existence, but yes, Domineering Space Dykes 5 is primo shit. If you're not, y'know, painfully repressed regarding anything remotely fun or sexy."
"I'm not painfully repressed."
Admittedly, Harrow is not a connoisseur of adult films. She has tried watching them a handful of times, out of curiosity, to varying levels of success, but came away with the overall impression that they were not for her. She still objects to Gideon's assessment. Nav is just being her aggravating, presumptuous self.
Gideon snorts, rolling her eyes, but Harrow can see mischief dawning in that infuriating, lovely head.
"Prove it, Nonagesimus."
Sweat prickles at the back of Harrow’s neck. "Prove it?"
"Yeah, watch the rest of this--" Gideon gestures back at the screen, still frozen on the image of the brown-haired woman sucking her scene partner's fingers into her mouth with heavy-lidded, performatively sex-drunk eyes. "--while you wait for your hard drive. Tell me it does nothing for you. Bet you can’t."
"You're disgusting," Harrow says, but of course Gideon doesn't miss her lack of an actual refusal.
She raises both hands in a surrendering gesture. "If it makes you uncomfortable forget I said anything." It's the softness in Nav's voice when she follows that up with "seriously, no actual pressure," that tips Harrow over the edge, despite the alarm bells ringing as she goes.
Harrow will not turn down a reasonable challenge from Gideon Nav. No matter how...perverse. She stands and takes back the remote, meeting Gideon's gaze, unimpressed.
"This better not awaken anything in me," she says, in a tone that suggests it could never do anything of the kind.
Gideon grins her irritatingly off-kilter grin, lets her eyebrows bounce suggestively in Harrow's direction, and disappears back into her bedroom.
Harrow studies the remote in her hand. The screen. She's going to watch porn, in Nav's living room, in order to prove--what exactly? That anything Nav can do she can do better? That's not remotely true. Harrow would be lucky to complete one whole chin-up, while Griddle’s arms could probably lift the both of them without breaking a sweat. Their talents do not often overlap, so why does Harrow want to prove her fortitude now ?
Harrow thinks about how hard she’s been working, and how much still lies ahead of her if she’s going to earn her degree at the grueling pace she’s set for herself, even assuming this computer issue doesn’t upend her completely. In the end it’s a curious yearning for the chaotic, she thinks, a daredevil’s resolve with a hint of self-sabotage that coaxes her to hit play.
The scene picks up exactly where Harrow expected, but her pulse still quickens in surprise as the purple-haired figure bends at the waist to take one of the brunette’s nipples into their mouth, teasing at it with tongue as their hand paws at the other breast.
If she thinks about it logically, Harrow can see the appeal. Both performers are attractive enough, and they’re performing sexual acts on each other. It’s not rocket science. They’re each believably enjoying what they’re doing, which Harrow is pleasantly surprised by. In her previous...experiments, the videos she’d watched had been the result of some cursory searching on the leading adult film website at the time. The performers had been--well, very obviously performing, and not especially convincingly. The two in front of her now seem to be focused more on each other than the camera hovering around them, which makes Harrow feel more like she is simply watching a (very simple, very lewd) story unfold rather than being a voyeur.
It is--not bad.
The attention on the breasts becomes more fervent, and the lovely brunette reacts with another cry, this one higher pitched than the last, and Harrow lowers the volume immediately, wondering idly why Nav had had it cranked up so high in the first place.
Which is a train of thought she’s been diligently avoiding, but now that it’s arrived the image forms in her mind of Gideon on the sofa--this sofa, watching this same video. She has watched it before, by the sound of it. Maybe it’s an old favorite, and she knows exactly which parts to skip to as she lounges. Would she have her trousers undone? Would she--right here? Or is the video just the foreplay for her? Maybe for someone like Nav this sort of thing is so old hat that it’s background noise, no different than putting on an old re-run of a beloved show.
The image shifts as she asks, answers, and re-submits these questions to herself. Sometimes Gideon is fully dressed and building a desktop tower on her coffee table while porn plays inconsequentially in the background. Sometimes she’s wearing a tank top, but it’s pushed up to expose her warm brown abdomen, her pants undone and shoved down to her thighs. Sometimes she’s biting her lip and grinding down on her hand through sweatpants, moaning like the woman in the video, like--
“Oh, nice--” Gideon’s voice interrupts Harrow’s reverie like a garrote pulled taut around her neck. “--this is where it starts getting good.”
“Griddle!” Harrow says, unable to keep the chirp of surprise from her voice. She’s trying to convince her heart rate that she hasn't been thrown from a moving vehicle when Gideon steps forward from where she’d been standing in the hallway, peering in, and joins Harrow on the couch.
“So whatcha think so far? Not bad, right?”
Harrow’s eyes flicker back to the screen, and the purple haired figure is trailing their mouth down an abdomen that heaves under them, hands roaming and pressing into yielding flesh.
Harrow swallows. “I’ve seen worse,” she says, and imagines that only she can hear the wobble in her voice.
“Really now?” Gideon leans in, and Harrow gets a faint whiff of her cologne, or maybe it’s just lingering notes of body wash. It’s subtle enough that she can’t smell it unless Gideon’s in her space. Which she is now.
"I'm not completely sheltered, Nav."
"Coulda fooled me." Gideon leans back, spreading her arms across the back of the sofa. Making herself comfortable. Taking up space.
"If you're done with my computer I can go," Harrow says, looking at Nav and not at the screen, even if she's not sure which is more dangerous in this moment.
"Just waiting for the transfer now. Copying all your stuff onto a nice new drive not attached to what is now a decade-old paperweight."
Harrow does feel some relief at that, but it's a drop in the anxiety bucket compared to Gideon sitting next to her, staring, casually expectant.
"And you have nothing better to do with your time?"
"Better than watching you blush your way through some stupendous works of a titty nature? I can make the time."
"I'm not blushing," and if she wasn't before, she is now. Fuck.
Gideon relents a little, which is somehow worse than if she'd pressed her advantage. She brings her broad shoulders up into a condescending shrug and says, "besides, someone's gotta catch you up on all the plot you missed. This is like two-thirds of the way in."
"Oh dear," Harrow says, crossing her arms and forcing herself to let her shoulder blades meet the back of the sofa. "How will I ever follow the intricately layered plot?"
Gideon smiles, baring one crooked canine in a row of white teeth. "No really," she says, gesturing to the screen, so now Harrow has no excuse not to look, and the tattooed figure is kneeling between the thighs of their partner. "The one on her back is a scientist. She's the good one, and she has a rivalry with the evil scientist."
"Let me guess, purple hair is the evil scientist."
"Pff, no. You'll know the evil one when you see her, all black vinyl and thigh-high boots with fuck-off heels. Purple hair is the good scientist's sex-bot. Obviously."
Harrow risks a withering glance back in Gideon's direction. "Obviously."
"The silver shorts! The metallic eyeshadow! Jeez, take a film class, Nonagesimus."
Harrow rolls her eyes and returns her attention to the screen. The camera has shifted over the scientist's shoulder, peering down at the--apparent--sex-bot's face as it disappears behind meticulously hairless labia.
Gideon continues her narration, softer now, like she's trying not to distract from the scene. "But what our heroine doesn't know is that the evil scientist reprogrammed her sex-bot to fuck too well, so she'd be distracted while the evil scientist uses her own sex-bot to seduce the captain."
"What a tangled web they weave," Harrow says, and the purple-haired figure looks up, eyes locking coquettishly with the lens as though in response. Their mouth opens, descending, and Harrow cringes.
"What is it?" Harrow cannot stand the concern tinging Gideon's voice.
"They're looking at the camera," Harrow says in a blurt of honesty, because the last thing she needs is Griddle mistaking her distaste for the possibility that she really is sheltered enough to be shocked by the appearance of oral sex in a pornographic film.
Gideon's expression slides from concerned to quizzical. "You don't like that?"
In no rush to defend her already under-defined adult film preferences, Harrow asks with no shortage of skepticism, "You do?"
"I mean, yeah," Gideon says, and it's awful the way her tongue darts out to wet her lower lip, the way her eyes glance down like she's thinking about it, and worst, the way her hips shift just a little as she continues, "it's like they're looking at you."
"Forgive me for not wanting to inject myself into a stranger's intimate moments."
Nav's head falls back, showcasing the lines of her neck. "It's porn, dumbass. You're supposed to fantasize."
Harrow considers objecting, but decides she would only make a bigger fool of herself. This is one of the subjects about which Nav is unquestionably more informed. Sighing, Harrow watches and, almost by accident, tries it. She watches as a pierced tongue parts the folds, the eyes mercifully downcast for the moment, and tries to imagine what it would be like to have--someone--do that for her. It's harder than she would care to admit.
Harrow is not a virgin, even if one of the few people she's been intimate with still calls her one to her face (Ianthe, her former dorm roommate, knows better--first hand, regrettably--and still delights in teasing Harrow for her lack of experience.) But there are some horizons that remain...unbroadened.
"I prefer lived experience over fantasy," Harrow finally says, which doesn’t actually make sense, considering, and then kicks herself for the way Gideon's eyebrows shoot up.
"Damn, princess, if I didn't know any better I'd think you were coming on to me."
"You're the one who invited me to watch porn in your living room."
"Yeah," Gideon says, turning her head lazily, meeting Harrow's uneasy gaze head on. "I did."
Pinned in place like an insect on a specimen board, Harrow stares back. There isn't anything cruel or biting in Gideon's face. In fact, it's remarkably open. Inviting.
"Don't make it weird, Nav."
She smirks now (horrendous), looking down at the remote still clutched in Harrow's fingers.
"You can turn it off anytime.”
She can. She can accuse Griddle of being immature and turn it off in a pissy huff and they could spend the rest of their time together in icy silence. Gideon probably wouldn’t even question it.
She leaves it on, and this time a new image is conjured in her head as she watches. This time she’s the one kneeling between--someone’s--thighs, opening her mouth to press a wet kiss to labia, parting them to find the flesh already slick. She has at least some frame of reference for this, and there’s a lurch in Harrow’s stomach that’s almost sickening, that rocks her, but she wants to feel it again. She imagines the blood-swollen nub of a clit under her tongue; she imagines a moan, like the ones she’s already heard, except the pitch isn’t quite the same, and--the purple-haired performer looks up into the camera again.
Harrow closes her eyes, a small grunt of frustration leaving her throat before she can think to hold it back.
“Damn,” Gideon says, gently puzzled, “you really don’t like that, do you?”
“It’s just--jarring,” Harrow says.
“The POV shots don’t last much longer, but,” Gideon holds out her hand, offering to take the remote, “we can turn it off if it’s actually skeeving you out.”
“It’s okay,” Harrow says, not relinquishing the remote control.
“Suit yourself,” Gideon replies, and sits back again.
They watch in silence for a minute, Harrow’s eyes glancing off the screen like fingers over a pan that might be too hot. Just as Gideon said, the camera angle changes again, this time keeping the brunette’s face in frame along with the things happening between her legs. She has her eyes shut most of the time, her mouth open and gasping. Harrow finds it to be an improvement.
She glances to Gideon, who has one side of her lower lip caught between her teeth.
“Do you like that?” Harrow hears herself asking, like an idiot.
“That…?” Gideon replies, like she’s afraid it’s a trick question. “Eating pussy?” Harrow nods, and Gideon gets her feet back under her to ask, “Giving or receiving?”
Harrow had meant to ask if she liked it in her porn, but now-- “Both,” she says. “Either.”
“Hmm,” Gideon hums, raising an eyebrow in Harrow’s direction as she considers. “Receiving is fine. It’s good! I certainly wouldn’t say no, but it’s also not usually gonna get me off, y’know?” Harrow can not say that she knows, but she nods anyway, and Gideon continues. “But giving? Hoo--Yes, I--” finding a minuscule reserve of shame, Gideon scrubs a hand through her hair and looks away with darkening cheeks. “Yeah. Very into it.”
Harrow wants to take that piece of information and sit with it, roll it around in her head for a long time, but Gideon stops the thought in its tracks when she asks, “What about you?”
Harrow swallows. She should lie. That’s the safe play, but she doesn’t want to be operating on false pretenses--any more than necessary--if she--if they--“Giving is fine,” Harrow says, and then: “I enjoy it.”
She pauses, and Gideon lets her stew for maybe five seconds before asking, “...and receiving?”
“I don’t,” Harrow says, and then: “I haven’t.”
Gideon’s eyes go wide, and Harrow wants to set herself on fire. She wants to set this apartment on fire and lock both her and Nav inside so there’s no one to remember her ever opening her mouth.
“Because you don’t want to, or…?”
Harrow closes her eyes and breathes out through her nose. “'Or,’ for the most part." She's come this far; no use trying to save face with a lie at this point. She still tries to explain herself. "I'm very busy and I don't--as a rule--date.”
"So...do you want to?"
Of course Nav wants to drag this out, make Harrow wallow in it now that she’s got something up on her. "Yes, Nav, theoretically--that's what I just--"
"No, I mean--right now."
Harrow feels like a cyclone of complex math equations are swirling around her head.
Gideon squirms a little, bites her lip again, and if this is a joke at Harrow's expense she will flay every perfectly formed muscle from Nav's body and display them as an anatomical trophy.
"Yeah?" And at least Gideon seems nearly as unsure about her proposal as Harrow. "Just so you can--form an opinion? And like, if you hate it it's not a big deal, because you already hate me."
Harrow winces at that attempt at a rational argument, immediately struck by its inverse. She's not afraid she won't like it. What happens when she does? And worse, what happens when she can't hide that fact, and the awful truth of it bursts like a pipe, ruining everything down to the piss-poor foundation of whatever it is they are to each other? Just because Nav got turned on watching an obscene film while Harrow happened to be in the room.
Still, it's hard for her to be afraid when she looks into Gideon's guileless face, luminous with anticipation. Nav has always made her feel reckless, and Harrow hates it. She loathes how strong the pull of it is, how Gideon's always there, offering herself up like a willing lamb at the altar of Harrow's bullshit; how she gives as good as she gets, so in the moment Harrow can't even feel guilty for dragging her in again.
She is demonstrably awful at saying no to it. She doesn't want to say no.
"I have to use the restroom," she says instead.
Gideon blinks, then waves a hand in the direction of the bathroom, very be my guest , and Harrow rises to her feet and sprints, shutting the door behind her.
She does use the restroom, and spends a long time with the water running over her hands, long after the soap is rinsed away. When she goes back out Gideon will be waiting for an answer, and Harrow can't. She cannot. Gideon doesn’t understand what she’s offering, what it would mean. Harrow dries her hands and takes a breath and opens the door.
Gideon's already looking up at her from the sofa, leaning forward, shoulders hunched. Her hands are clasped together like she's been wringing them. The porn is paused again. Harrow can’t decide if that makes it better or worse.
"Just tell me to fuck off if you're not interested, Harrow."
Harrow doesn't say anything to that, only stands in the entryway to the living room.
"I'm sorry," Gideon says, and stands herself. "I did make it weird. It was a bad idea. I know you're not interested in--me, like that." She starts making a B-line for her bedroom, avoiding eye contact as she passes Harrow. "Your drive's probably almost done; I'll just grab--"
Gideon's words cease abruptly when Harrow catches her arm.
“It’s not a bad idea,” Harrow says, even though it is. There’s a part of her that’s furious at Gideon for being so un-Gideon-like about this. There’s no bravado, no glint of mischief in her eyes when she raises them to study Harrow. If she would just be an asshole about it Harrow could turn her down without feeling like she was letting something precious slip through her fingers.
“Do you want--”
“Yes,” Harrow interrupts. Gideon’s eyes widen and her cheeks are rounded, pulled up, and she’s so startlingly beautiful when she smiles that Harrow has to look away.
"The couch?" Gideon asks, with a nod in that direction. "I'd offer you the bed but my bedroom decor is mostly computer junk. Not the most amorous locale."
"The couch is fine," Harrow says in a rush. She goes to stand by it, and already she's at a loss. Dressed like a shabby parody of an overworked sophomore, Harrow doesn't know how to make herself look even remotely enticing. "Should I--take my pants off?"
Gideon chuckles, and gestures for Harrow to sit down. "We'll get there."
Harrow does sit, and Gideon's fingers twitch at her side.
"Can I kiss you?"
Harrow is a fool, a dolt, a complete idiot baby, because it had not even occurred to her that Gideon might want to kiss her, so she doesn't have the wherewithal to actually think about what a bad idea it is before she's nodding urgently.
And then Gideon is moving slowly, which, Harrow realizes after longer than she cares to admit, is probably to give Harrow time to get used to the idea, to stop Gideon if she needs to.
But there's no getting used to Gideon's knees settling onto the sofa on either side of her. There's no world in which Harrow grows acclimated to Gideon's weight settling over her lap. Hands curl around Harrow's neck, cradling the back of her head, and when Gideon's lips brush hers, a sound escapes her throat, horrifyingly like a sob before it's caught and consumed by Nav's unbearably warm mouth.
Gideon must feel Harrow's pulse pounding in her neck when she kisses a trail under her jaw, and Harrow finds her own hands--when had they gotten there?--gripping Gideon's thighs. Like this, Harrow's whole world is consumed by Gideon, like she's an eclipse, inverted, so bright in the sky it makes Harrow's eyes sting when she steps out into it.
This isn’t--” Harrow says as Gideon’s hands curl around her waist, “--what I expected.”
Gideon looks up, and the air is cool on Harrow’s neck where her mouth has been. “Need me to stop?”
“No,” Harrow replies instantly, and Gideon looks down at her with all the patience in the world. “I’m surprised you’re so--slow,” and Harrow cringes again. She’s too tense to sand the edges off her voice, so it sounds like a criticism. It really, profoundly isn’t.
Gideon leans back on her haunches, one hand over her heart. “What kind of woman do you take me for, Nonagesimus? Wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am?”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Harrow says, and now she is getting defensive.
The corner of Gideon’s mouth turns up anyway. “You think I’m just gonna go straight into muff-diving without any kind of lead-up? The whole point of this is to make it good for you.” She tilts her head, fiddling with a strand of short hair next to Harrow’s ear. “Is there something you want me to do? To really rev your engine?”
Squeezing her eyes shut, Harrow shakes her head. “This is good,” she says, like it’s a confession.
“Good,” Gideon says, and takes Harrow’s mouth again, starting from the top.
This time, Gideon’s fingers slip under the hem of her shirt, and Harrow startles when skin meets skin on her hip bones. Gideon smiles against her cheek and says in a low whisper, “So jumpy… It’s okay, princess. You’re in good hands.”
Gideon keeps kissing her, on the mouth, the throat, the space just under her ear. Her hands are moving like they're keeping harmony, pressing into the skin at Harrow's waist, fingers splayed over her back, teasing higher and lower, but never quite reaching beyond. Harrow's body feels like it's iced over, like Gideon's warmth is a hot bath staving off frostbite. She wants to be submerged.
Harrow's hips move of their own accord, rolling up against the weight in her lap. When Gideon's mouth releases hers again, Harrow breathes a weak and halting "please," into the space between them.
Eyelids heavy, one corner of her mouth pulling lazily upward, Gideon says, "Yeah."
She slides off Harrow's lap, kissing over the shitty band shirt as she goes. “No bra…” she notes at one point, groaning faintly. Her knees meet the floor as her mouth reaches the waistband of Harrow's pajama pants. Gazing down at the pattern of skulls printed on the soft black cotton, she smiles. "These are cute," she says, and tugs at the drawstring. "But they'd look better on my floor."
Harrow hates Gideon with every fiber of being for many reasons, but currently the most pressing is the fact that a laughably trashy pick up line from her lips (reddened, swollen from kissing), at this moment, makes arousal flood Harrow's body until she's stupid with it. The pants would look better on the floor, and so would Gideon's shirt, and anything else taking up space between the two of them.
Harrow’s voice cuts in, pausing Gideon’s fingers on the waistband.
“I haven’t--” Harrow says, and then corrects herself, “I don’t shave. Or wax, or--anything.”
Perplexed, Gideon turns her head and says, peering at her sidelong, “Okay…?”
“Just so you know,” Harrow replies, feeling like a fool even as she stamps down memories of Ianthe’s curled lip, parting Harrow with pale fingers instead of her mouth, because she doesn’t care for hair in my food, Harry . (And then her former roommate had laughed at her own incidental pun and made Harrow come so hard she almost forgot the shame pooling in her chest.) Harrow glances past Gideon to the screen, which has switched to the DVD player screensaver, bouncing unhurriedly around from one corner to the next. “It won’t be like the movie,” she adds in hopes that Gideon will stop looking at her like she’s a court jester who forgot her own routine.
She doesn’t, entirely, but she laughs once, which defuses the tension and makes Harrow more annoyed than mortified. “Already super aware that porn is not real life, but thank you for the heads up. Not to brag, but I also have object permanence.”
“I just,” Harrow says, forcing herself to exhale steadily, “didn’t want it to be an unpleasant surprise.”
Resting her elbows on Harrow’s knees, Gideon looks up with something dangerously close to fondness. “I just told you that eating pussy is, like, my favorite pastime and you think I’d be put off by a little bush? You wound me.”
“Then get on with it!” Harrow says, because she’s desperately aroused and desperately needs Gideon to not mock her if she’s going to stay that way.
“You’re so sexy when you’re impatient.”
“Is that why you always try my patience?”
Gideon’s eyes linger on hers. “Maybe.”
There's too much in it that Harrow wants, so she dismisses it as antagonism on Nav's part. No more true than her false endearments, or the fiction that Gideon wants her specifically.
Harrow doesn't read much in the way of fiction. It's frivolous, not useful to her, and she frankly doesn’t have the time. But this story is one she wants to tell herself, that she wants to indulge in for a little while. Maybe Gideon’s mockery can facilitate that, if Harrow pretends, pathetically, that it’s sincere.
It will hurt when the facade falls away again, but right now her body is telling her it’s worth the agony.
Gideon pulls the skull-patterned pants down, barely needing Harrow to lift her hips off the couch. Balling them up and throwing them out of the way, Gideon slides her hands down Harrow’s thighs and taps her fingers at the back of her knees.
“Scooch forward,” she says, and Harrow does, tentatively. “Don’t be shy, sweetness. Hang that ass right off the edge. Promise I won’t let you fall.”
Even with her underwear still on, this makes Harrow feel unreasonably exposed--the lower half of her body completely off the couch, Gideon crouched between her legs. Her head is propped up awkwardly against the back of the sofa, and Gideon reaches over her, grabbing a throw pillow and wedging it under her neck. It helps with her spine, but not the creeping blush rising on her exposed thighs.
Starting at the meager swell of Harrow's left calf, Gideon presses her mouth in a trail of kisses, reverent and gently biting by turns, up her legs. By the time she reaches the apex of that trajectory, all it takes is Gideon's hot breath through the now-damp cotton to make Harrow whimper.
Gideon sucks what will become a hickey high on Harrow's thigh, and Harrow is quietly grateful it's not where anyone will see, even if she knows it's because Gideon doesn't want to advertise this particular encounter any more than Harrow does. But right now they're alone (aside from Gideon's mutt in the next room), and Harrow's already made peace with a certain amount of shame in this moment, so she cries out when Gideon's mouth presses against her vulva, the barrier of fabric still separating them.
"Music to my ears, gorgeous," Gideon says when she lifts her head. She peels Harrow's underwear off, and parts her legs again, and this time there's nothing between Harrow and Gideon's tongue, slick and opening her up.
It's so different from fingers, or maybe it's just different from her own touch, or Ianthe's. It feels good because Harrow's so worked up at this point that anything touching her would feel good, but for the first few moments she doesn't know what else to make of it. She worries that she won't like it much after all, and all of Gideon's contagious enthusiasm will be wasted on her.
It's almost enough to pull her out of the moment, but then Gideon's arms come up under the backs of her thighs, just below her ass, and buoy Harrow up. The mouth on her cunt moves--deliberately, Harrow doesn't know how else to put it. Gideon's tongue is curling, and there's something like suction on her clit. It’s new and strange and--
" Fuck, Griddle !" Harrow shouts, and it's shrill but she doesn't care because her fingers are digging into the couch cushions and she's coming with jerking, violent contractions of her abdominal muscles against Gideon’s face. Gideon rides it out, grunting as she clutches Harrow’s hip, backing off when Harrow finally relaxes into loose-bodied panting.
“Did not expect that to happen so quickly,” Gideon says, her mouth, chin, and cheeks all glinting with wetness. She looks like she’s won a prize, like Harrow’s pussy is a carnival game that just earned her an impractically large teddy bear.
“I am--” Harrow gulps another lungful of air, “--equally surprised.”
“You’re a natural.” Gideon’s eyes roll back in her head slightly when her tongue licks at the residue Harrow left behind on her lips, but then they’re back on her. Hungry. “ Wanna go again?”
Harrow shouldn’t push her luck. She shouldn’t keep taking this from Gideon, like it’s just sex--or like she doesn’t wish it were more. Harrow wishes there was some rational, objective argument that convinces her to nod her head and say, “ yes ,” but she knows it’s just the sight of Gideon and the rush of hormones and the nerve endings between her legs set alight that push the word past her lips sounding like please.
Gideon grins and nods back and descends again.
The hill isn’t as steep this time, the ascent more gradual. There’s lingering over-stimulation that punctuates it initially, echoes of orgasm that tense Harrow’s core, but soon it flattens out into something slow and sweet and building. Gideon’s eyes are closed--they’ve been closed, Harrow realizes, for the better part of this--Experiment--but there’s a dreamy quality now, her forehead smooth and relaxed, and it makes Harrow feel dreamy, too. Like this isn’t some furtive, stolen moment; an accident; a mistake.
Gideon dips her tongue inside Harrow, leaving her nose to nudge at the swollen nub of her clit, which seems absurd somehow. Harrow has never found noses to be particularly erotic, especially when considered alongside Nav’s more striking features. It’s making a strong case now, though, along with every part of Gideon that touches her.
Gideon can’t get deep enough like this to do more than light up the nerves at the entrance of Harrow’s cunt, making the sounds in her throat needier, but it’s good anyway, the wanting. Sometimes Gideon moans against her and Harrow can’t help but return it with her own, higher and more desperate.
Fingers snake their way in the space between Harrow’s folds and Gideon’s mouth, spreading her open. Harrow is soaked, must be dripping off of Nav’s chin and onto the floor by now, and that tongue is splayed over her exposed flesh. The sounds of it are wet and filthy, and Harrow is getting close again.
Gideon’s mouth retreats just enough to say, voice ragged, “Harrow, please--say my name.”
“ Gideon ! Ah--” Harrow replies immediately, and then: “Gideon, look at me.”
Harrow’s already on the precipice, and the chromatic amber of Gideon’s eyes tip her over. She curses and her thighs clamp involuntarily around Gideon’s ears, but she doesn’t seem upset by the sudden headlock. She’s holding Harrow up by her ass as it threatens to slip the rest of the way off the couch, then controls her descent to the floor once the final shudders of her orgasm subside.
She ends up with her butt between Gideon’s knees, legs draped awkwardly over her thighs, staring up into Gideon’s face. They’re both breathing hard, and Gideon is glowing, triumphant, and--a mess. A glossy sheen covers the lower half of her face and her mouth is reddened, her cheeks ruddy all the way to the burnt orange of her hairline. Gideon looks like she might burn Harrow if she touched her.
Something reckless in her chest heaves Harrow forward, and she’s pulling Gideon down into a kiss. She’s met with a surprised sound and Nav’s arms curling around her waist.
“So, did I make a convincing case?” Gideon asks when they break apart again.
Harrow closes her eyes and tries not to think about the fact that Gideon’s mouth tastes like her own fluids. “What do you think.”
“I think you should give me a call anytime you need a refresher.”
Harrow’s heart stutters, her jaw clamping shut. “You’d like to do this again?”
“Holy shit, obviously,” Gideon says, grabbing Harrow’s hips through the t-shirt and squeezing. “I’ve wanted--fuck, that was so hot.”
Gideon’s hands linger on her, but after several seconds of silence she begins to pull away. Harrow knows if she doesn’t work up the nerve now, she probably never will.
“I can take care of you, too. If you want that.” If Gideon says no she can claim she was being polite.
They’re close enough that Harrow can hear the sharp intake of breath, see the way Gideon’s pupils dilate at the suggestion.
Gideon pulls her hands away entirely, planting them instead on the floor behind her and leaning back.
“Don’t feel like you have to, I’m not--that’s not why I--”
“I know,” Harrow says, even though she’s not sure she did. “But I want to. Tremendously.”
Gideon’s eyebrows shoot up. “Tremendously?” It’s not mocking.
Harrow sighs, put out as though she’s not already seated unceremoniously between Nav’s legs wearing no pants. “You’re very attractive, Griddle.” As confessions go, this seems like a safe one. All things considered. It’s practically an objective fact, and it’s not like Nav doesn’t already know it.
Gideon looks away sheepishly, and the sound she makes isn’t words so much as a muffled grunt. There’s trepidation in her eyes when they’re back on Harrow, like she’s silently convincing herself. “Yeah. Yes. Fuck yes.”
“How do you want…” Harrow begins, and Gideon is standing up, pulling Harrow to her feet too.
“It’s best if I’m on my back,” Gideon says, swallowing. “I can lie down?”
Harrow nods, and Gideon hesitates. Her hands move to the waistband of her pants, the white elastic band of her briefs already peeking out on her hip. She opens the fly and shoves both down, stepping out of them and sprawling on the couch.
Harrow’s pulse is thundering in her ears, and there is not enough oxygen in the room. Gideon’s thighs are solid and brown with stretch marks painting pale, curving, wobbly lines just under her hip, and Harrow wants to touch them. If she’s being entirely honest, she wants to taste them.
“Take off your shirt.” If she does get to have this, she doesn’t want half-measures.
One hand reaching back to grab the collar of her tank top, Gideon stops, a slyness tugging at the line of her mouth. “You too?”
It feels absurd to make this a sticking point after everything, so Harrow pulls off her own shirt with as little fanfare as possible. She's completely naked, and Gideon looks directly at her breasts. Harrow doesn't move to cover herself, but it's a near thing.
"Well?" She asks, nodding at Gideon's shirt, still annoyingly on her body.
Gideon shakes her head like she was dazed, and finally tugs the offending garment over her head in a smooth motion of skin and musculature. There’s still a scar on her left flank from when they were ten and Gideon had jumped out from a bush to startle her. Harrow had shoved her and Gideon had tipped over into the bush, thorns tearing holes into her already well-worn shirt.
Displayed like this, all of her bravado and put-on arrogance seems entirely justified. Harrow stares, could keep staring. She gets hung up on the lines of her torso, the shallow v that cuts in at her hip, how it all seems to be leading her eye to the patch of rust-red hair at the meeting of those solid, gracefully toned thighs.
But she hasn’t offered to merely admire Gideon.
Kneeling on the sofa, Harrow plants her hands on either side of Gideon’s head on the armrest. She leans in and kisses Gideon--that’s how she had started, so Harrow calculates it's a safe opening move.
Harrow reassesses when Gideon's arms come around her and pull their bodies flush. Harrow's nipples graze the unyielding fabric of Gideon's sports bra. Their thighs slot together, and Harrow almost pushes back on Gideon's. She's still wet and wants to ride it, make a mess on Gideon's leg the way she already has her mouth. Why does Griddle make it so easy to take ?
She doesn't ride Gideon's leg until she's gasping. She keeps kissing Gideon, letting her hands travel indulgently over her arms, her chest, the abdominal muscles tensing under her, softened to her touch by a firm layer of fat.
She pulls back to look into Gideon's--dazed, unreasonably handsome--face. Her fingers reach the elastic of Gideon's bra.
In a rare moment of speechlessness, Gideon nods, and Harrow pushes the bra up. Harrow marvels at the transition from sculpted pectoral to soft, inviting breast tissue. Harrow takes the invitation, ducking her head to trace the perimeter of wide areola and sucking one peaked nipple into her mouth.
"Oh fuck," Gideon says, and her hips are rising to meet Harrow's.
Harrow does get to ride her after all, like a wave, the ocean carrying her body like a boat on its unfathomable expanse.
She allows herself to linger on Gideon's breasts until the noises she gets in response grow desperate. When they start to sound slightly pained, Harrow slides down between her legs.
Apparently Gideon doesn't shave either, but her hair is trimmed neatly, just long enough that it doesn't prickle uncomfortably when Harrow runs a hand over it. Gideon’s hips jerk when she does it.
There's enough space on the sofa for Harrow to lie flat on her belly if she bends her knees, the tops of her feet facing the ceiling. When she looks up, Gideon is staring back at her, transfixed, and there's a rush of heat from just under Harrow’s ribs to the tips of her ears. It's a mixture of panic and arousal that Harrow doesn't entirely loathe, but she can't help but avert her eyes after a moment.
She presses a kiss, soft at first, to Gideon’s raised thigh to her left. She sucks at the tender skin, and the hips under her squirm. When she bites, Gideon yelps, and Harrow hazards looking up at her again.
“N-no.” Gideon is shaking her head, fingers pressing into the cushion at her sides.
Harrow presses a soothing tongue to the reddened skin and travels higher, biting again. “Fuck,” Gideon says, and then, “Fuck!” when Harrow’s lips meet the seam of her labia. She’s wet, and all it takes is nudging her open to spread that slickness up and around. She tastes not entirely dissimilar to how Harrow had tasted on Gideon’s mouth, but there’s enough difference that Harrow can file it away, neatly label it Griddle, Sex With , and call it up when necessary. (She does not think about how much it will hurt to call it up later, because she refuses to ruin this for herself preemptively. She will inevitably find a way to do that later.)
Melting into Gideon, Harrow opens her mouth wider, takes more and drags her tongue in long, forceful strokes. Gideon is vocal, beautifully so, and Harrow tries to follow the path her reactions provide. She experiments with what she thinks Gideon was doing to her, and it’s good. She tries sucking lightly at her clit and Gideon’s hips come off the sofa so fast Harrow has to pull her head back.
Smiling helplessly, she says, “You’re going to break my nose, Griddle.”
Groaning, Gideon reaches behind herself to grip the armrest, planting her ass firmly on the sofa cushions with some effort. She looks magnificent, arms and core tensed, a sheen of sweet adding a glow to her skin.
“Sorry,” she says, “I’ll be good.”
Harrow hums, not trusting any response she might come up with for that. When Gideon seems settled, she starts again where she left off, and Gideon is whining now. Harrow presses harder, but the sounds only grow more frustrated. Finally, Gideon forms words again.
“Your hand--please, I need--”
The words lack specificity, and Harrow recoils at the idea of fumbling her way through pleasing Nav when she's already so desperate.
"Show me," Harrow says, and Gideon doesn't waste time. Her right hand is suddenly in Harrow's face, fingers sliding through slick folds and moving in tight, urgent circles over the swollen bud of her clit. There's a measure of relief in her moans now, and Harrow is momentarily mesmerized.
Eventually she remembers that she's not here to look on uselessly as Griddle get herself off, so she puts her hand over Nav's. Once she's got the tempo she pushes it away, taking over entirely. She doesn't have to worry about watching now, because Nav has her head thrown back, her eyes screwed shut.
The thighs bracketing her ears grow tense, abdominal muscles trembling. Gideon Nav on the precipice of orgasm is perhaps the most strikingly beautiful thing Harrow has to this point in her life witnessed, and maybe that is the reason all concern for the structural integrity of her nasal bones goes out the window. She spreads her fingers, and in the space between them she places her mouth.
"Holy shit--" Gideon is struck silent when she does tip over the edge, hips still kept in check enough that Harrow can stay with her through it, the shudders of climax reverberating through her jaw.
Gideon's face is buried against her arm. Harrow rests her cheek on one damp thigh and stares. The light from the window is hitting Gideon in a golden beam across her chest, and Harrow--blissed-out, overwhelmed, exhausted Harrow--feels like she might cry.
Before she can, she’s standing and looking for her clothes. The shirt is right where she left it, but she can’t remember where Gideon had thrown her pants when--when--
“Hey, what’s the rush?” Gideon’s still lounging, looking up at her from the couch.
“Where are my pants?” Harrow asks, tearing her eyes away and returning them diligently to the floor.
Gideon props her head up on one hand. “If I tell you will you come back here and help me bask in this glorious afterglow? Because you’re missing out on prime basking time.”
“That’s not a good idea.”
“It’s an incredible idea, actually. I know that you’re, like, terminally allergic to tenderness, but I promise it won’t actually kill you to cuddle afterward.”
“This was a mistake,” Harrow says, and the words sound more blunt than she had intended them. It was her mistake, not Gideon’s, but Nav still looks like Harrow just dropped an especially expensive and sentimental piece of computer hardware into the deep end of a pool, or maybe plunged it into her chest. She sits up and studies Harrow with that wounded look for a few long seconds, then shakes her head.
“There are a lot of words I would use to describe what we just did. Fantastic. Revelatory. Supremely fucking hot. You’ll notice ‘mistake’ is nowhere on the list.”
Harrow spots the tell-tale pattern of skulls peeking out from behind an end table, and snatches them up. “I can’t do this.”
“I mean, you kind of already did? And unless my instincts are way off, you enjoyed the shit out of it, so what is it exactly that you can’t do?”
Harrow’s pinned in place again, pajama pants held uselessly in one hand. “I can’t do meaningless sex,” she admits, because telling Gideon the truth has gotten her into this mess; maybe the truth will get her out of it too, her dignity be damned. Maybe Nav will let her leave without fanfare if Harrow puts her cards on the table. At Griddle’s mercy. “Not with you.”
Gideon looks at her puzzled again, her concern slipping into bemusement. “Who said this had to be just sex?” She pulls her bra down from where it’s bunched under her armpits, covering her breasts again--a nod to decency, even though they’re both still naked from the waist down. “What do you need it to be?”
“Don’t ask me that, Griddle.”
Gideon stands, closing the distance between them and taking one of Harrow’s hands loosely in her own. “Come on, what is it? You need me to wine and dine you? Defeat your seven evil exes? Do we need promise rings?” When Harrow only blinks at her, she adds, “Because all of that is on the table. I mean, I’m pretty sure I could take Ianthe.”
Harrow snorts, and every instinct is still telling her it can’t be this easy, that it’s going to ruin everything, somehow, but--Gideon has always made her feel reckless.
“I’m going to wash my face,” Harrow says, and, “I can’t stay long. I’ve got to catch up on my work.”
Gideon looks down at her, amiably disappointed. “I gotcha. Always on that grind.”
Narrowing her eyes at the way Gideon smirks when she says grind , Harrow disappears back into the bathroom. She washes up, puts her pants back on, and does not , somehow, scream like she’s being murdered. She’s...surprisingly calm, in fact. By some miracle or foolishness, she doesn’t actually feel like she’s ruining anything.
When she emerges, Gideon is on the couch again, this time sporting underwear along with her bra. The television is turned off completely, no more bouncing screensaver or lewd imagery to distract them.
“We may bask,” Harrow says, tapping her phone on the coffee table to life, checking the time, “for five minutes.”
“You’re such a romantic,” Gideon says, and holds her arm up, making a space for Harrow.
It’s over an hour later when Harrow startles awake, her head pillowed on Gideon's chest. The hand curled around her waist shifts, and Harrow looks up into Gideon's bleary face, blinking away her own sleep. She should have set an alarm.
“I need to go,” Harrow says, but doesn’t move to get up.
Gideon lets out a disgruntled hum, squeezing Harrow tighter.
“I’m already behind schedule.” Harrow is trying to convince herself, and Gideon probably knows it.
She doesn’t argue, though. Instead Gideon snakes a hand under Harrow’s shirt, letting her fingers brush the skin at her side, almost enough to tickle, and says, “You wanna borrow the movie? I know you’re on the edge of your seat over what happens next.”
Harrow reluctantly slides herself out of Gideon’s grasp. “Somehow I think I’ll survive the suspense.” She wouldn't have time to watch it anyway.
Sitting up as Harrow stands, Gideon pushes her mussed hair back from where it had fallen in her face. “Nah, you’re right. We’ll save it for next time you come over. See if there’s anything else you wanna try out.” Her smile is showing teeth again.
Embarrassment makes Harrow’s face feel hot, but it swirls with something else, something nicer, at the next time that Gideon throws out so casually.
“Let me finish up with your computer,” Gideon says, finally getting up. “Only take a minute.” She disappears into her room, and Harrow allows herself to ogle the lines of her back a little. As a treat.
Harrow slings her laptop bag over her shoulder, and Gideon emerges again after a few minutes with a laptop in her hand.
“I can’t use that,” Harrow says.
It’s a fairly basic looking gray laptop, a little slimmer than the one she’d brought with her. It’s also peppered with stickers that feature rainbows, obscene phrases, and scantily clad women in suggestive pin-up poses.
“It’s the best machine I’ve got for what you need to do. Guaranteed not to crap out on you.”
Harrow closes her eyes, breathes out. She genuinely does not have the time to go out and buy a new computer, and this overly decorated monstrosity already has her work on it. She takes it from Gideon and stashes it in the bag.
“Thank you,” she says, because she’s not a complete ingrate. “How much do I owe you for the work?”
Gideon smiles and leans against a nearby wall. “I’d hardly call that work, honey. Or was I so good that you want to pay me?”
Harrow’s cheeks tighten a fraction, but she doesn’t smile. “For the computer, you ass.”
“Hmm,” Gideon makes a show of thinking, counting out who-knows-what on her fingers. Finally she reaches a sum. “How about...dinner?”
Harrow's heart stutters at the thought, and then sinks into her gut. She's not used to anything competing with schoolwork for her attention. Certainly nothing as compelling as Gideon Nav, asking her--on a date?
"Not tonight," Gideon amends. "When you're done with the semester. You've got like a week to go, right?"
"Great! Celebratory dinner, on you, restaurant my choice. Deal?"
Reaching out a hand to curl around the back of Gideon's neck, Harrow pulls her down into a kiss. It's tame comparatively, but when Gideon's lips part against hers, Harrow feels it down to her toes.