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On The Edge Of The Water

Chapter Text

It was when, amongst the endless, winding lines of people, she and her family were waved straight through, that Katya thought, “Ah, this might not be so bad after all.”

She had made a last minute decision to join them. But, if she were being honest with herself - which she was not wont to do - then this vacation had been months in the making and, really, her being there was downright inevitable. So much so that her parents had booked the cabin next to theirs, all expenses paid for, and all she had had to do was sort out her flight. Of course, she had gotten Fena to book it and had endured the continuous teasing from her that she would no doubt be spending twelve nights surrounded by sixty year olds and families thinking they were the next Kardashians, or whatever normal people held up to be the pinnacle of luxury nowadays.

Still, being Concierge Class apparently ensured jumping all the queues and a glass of mediocre champagne upon arrival. Although it pained her to have her ID photo taken on a webcam that looked like it belonged back in 2008 (the flashbacks…), it did bring her great satisfaction to see that her sea pass card was gold instead of the regular blue, and her pillar box red lips looked killer on screen regardless. Her foray into getting the tiniest dose of filler had paid off. She had more money than sense, and more vanity than money.

She hadn’t been to Fort Lauderdale before, never having reason to, but she had been slowly making her way around the world. Her one goal in life was to visit every single country before she died and, as she didn’t plan on living too much longer, her thirties had been filled with planes, trains and automobiles, taking her to the very ends of the Earth before, unfortunately, dragging her back before she could drop off the edge.

She wasn’t the type to visit a place and find a home there but that was more because she didn’t belong anywhere, settling, therefore, in LA. Because that was the best option. Most days.

The cruise terminal was nondescript and grey and made her feel like she was in a shipping container, ready to be sent off somewhere unknown with her fate decided for her. She wondered if this was what sardines experienced, packed in their cans and awaiting consumption, and quietly laughed to herself as she repeated, “Wiggle wiggle, little fishy,” under her breath, “Don’t suffocate, now.”

Her mom and dad were used to her antics. Her mom had sped ahead along the first gangway, anyway, ever the fast walker, so it was only the few excitable passengers around her that did a double take. She was probably the most interesting thing they’d seen that day.

Besides the ship itself.

Coming out onto the port side with her trolley dolly suitcase behind her, she couldn’t help but crane her neck in wonder at the sheer size of it, anchored in the green blue of the ocean. It was difficult to tell how far the hull went below what she could see, where the windows got smaller and rounder, the waves jumped up with an inconsistent rhythm and, she supposed, where the crew resided, a far cry away from the balcony rooms on the upper decks.

“Welcome! Welcome! Have your sea pass card ready!” An attendant in white, stood under a small gazebo, called out to all the new arrivals, holding out hand sanitiser.

Katya hurried along to catch up to her mom and gripped the gold plastic so hard that it dug into her palms, suddenly worried that she’d drop it into the sea. She fumbled to rub the sanitiser into her hands all the while - quite the feat - and scrunched her nose up at the alcoholic smell. Then, she trotted up the gangway, huffing a laugh at how her father was already cracking his same old jokes with the crew and how her mom was rolling her eyes, having heard it all a million times before. Her heels were a little cumbersome but she had struggled through worse and soon she was being waved through, through the obligatory metal detectors and security checks and then, onwards and upwards, to the giant glass elevators which whisked everyone up to midship.

“I think they’ve done it up a bit since we were last on board.” Her dad commented, to the agreement of her mom - and also a middle aged couple who were squashed up next to them in their completely unnecessary Berghaus jackets. It had been a wonderfully pleasant 78 that morning so Katya questioned their sanity, or their body’s temperature regulation at the very least. Katya tuned out the rundown of renovations, checking her reflection and straightening her blunt fringe. She had recently had it cut a little shorter, edging upwards at the sides, into her temples. The rest of her hair fanned out in white blonde waves, eye catching but relatively low maintenance for days when she could just about manage to put it into a messy bun.

They got out with everyone else on Deck 4 but, whereas some “less seasoned cruisers”, according to her mom, went to reception, one of the many bars or to explore the seating area and general grandeur of the atrium, they made their way to the restaurant. Apparently it was imperative to check that they were booked in for their half seven dining slot each night and that they were absolutely not to be put on a table with another party or two. Katya, in that moment, understood exactly where she got her misanthropic inclinations from.

She praised a god she didn’t believe in that their preferences were indeed registered on the system, the maître d' thus being spared the wrath of her parents’ very kind but very direct tellings off, and so, with the knowledge that they had prevented any very-serious-indeed dining mishaps, they ambled up to the Lido deck to get a spot of lunch at the buffet nearer the back of the ship.

“That’s called ‘aft’.” Her dad supplied with a nudge before applying even more hand sanitiser as they entered Ocean View Cafe. Katya assumed she’d get used to the ritual but, for someone who admittedly often forgot to wash her hands at the best of times, it was rather alien. All of it.

Grumbling when he couldn’t immediately find somewhere for them to sit, her dad began weaving in and out of tables.

“Jesus, Katya, he’s doing my head in already. I’m so glad you’re here.” Her mom linked their arms and begrudgingly followed along, smiling and nodding at a waiter who wished them both a pleasant afternoon. Katya soon began to notice how the male crew members were all extra nice to her. They must have really been deprived. Being cooped up in gendered living quarters would sure have that kind of disastrous effect on the straight ones, Katya mused, looking out over the sparkling sea, her father finally having found a free table that was to his liking. Close enough to where the curries and other hot food were without being bothered by passersby every few seconds, and next to the floor to ceiling windows so they could soak up the view, if Katya guessed correctly.

She just about remembered to respond to her mom and deadpanned, “Thanks, mother dear, means a lot.”

“Oh you know I love having you around no matter what.”

“What’s that?” Her dad chimed in and the two of them deftly distracted him with remarks about spotting his favourite kind of cake over by the dessert section.

Lunch wasn’t as bad as she had assumed it would have been. She didn’t think she’d eaten from a buffet since the nineties but she had to admit that there was something pleasant about tucking into an elaborate hand picked mezze above the waves and squinting towards the horizon, to where she would be taken next. She didn’t have to think, she didn’t have to wallow. She could relax into the floating feeling it gave her, being so high up that even the few birds soaring through the cloudless sky were beneath her. The couple of glasses of prosecco might have added to her lightheadedness, too.

“Sail away is at four so we should get a good spot up top, maybe have a little lie down and a sunbathe.” Her mom suggested like it was a serious plan of action, then hiccupped. “Maybe sober up a bit.”

Katya leaned into her as she laughed. It was nice.

‘Up top’ actually just meant where the rows of loungers were, overlooking the pool on Deck 12 and arranged all around the circumference of the ship. It was busy already, even though other passengers were still boarding, people with cocktails and branded beach towels getting into the swing of doing very little. She was sure to have a bit of a panic at some point later over how she would keep herself occupied so the demons didn’t come and find her but, for the time being, Katya put her case on a lounger next to her mom’s, held onto her sea pass card and her sunglasses like they were her life raft and wandered off in search of the bathrooms so she could change into her bikini.

Whilst her parents had stayed in a hotel the night previously, Katya had flown in that very morning and had met them at the cruise terminal, standing out in her Louboutins, strappy black dress and red fringed jacket. She had been sweating profusely the entire time and it was a relief to take off her layers. Her dress was of a simple cotton, tight on her body, which she kept on whilst walking around the ship. She did feel like a bit of a poser in heels when her slides (the ones Fena threatened to throw at her every time she wore them in her presence) would have done just the trick, but dressing up was a frivolous novelty and, yes, she was shallow.

She took what joy she could.

The breath she let out once she had settled onto her sunbed was long and releasing. She closed her eyes, tilted her face towards the sun and made the conscious effort not to think about anything other than the warmth spreading through her.

The speakers dotted around the deck were playing pop music she didn’t care for and she was vaguely aware of the chatter of a couple beside her, but the exhaustion she didn’t want to properly acknowledge she had been putting up with kissed at her senses, pulled her down into a lazy doze, away from external forces.

“Katya.” She heard, who knows how long later. “Katya, we’re due to set sail. Wake up, honey.”

She would have grumbled (affectionately, of course, being a model daughter and all) at her mom were it not for the loud blast of the ship’s horn signalling their departure. She scrambled, bare foot, to join her parents at the glass barrier opposite them to look out onto the sea as they began to move. They had ordered a cocktail for her and her father placed a tall glass filled with icy pina colada, complete with decorative umbrella and cherries, into her hand. She needn’t have lifted a finger.

“Cheers, darling.” He said. “It’s lovely to have you with us.”

“Cheers.” Her mom clinked her glass of wine against both their drinks and they all turned to watch the land they had been on that morning slowly fade into the distance.

“I’m glad I’m here.” She murmured, too quiet to be heard. The live band had started to play somewhere near one of the bars by the pool. It seemed like a promise, somehow, one she wasn’t sure if she was able to keep, and so she smiled at her parents, kept sipping her drink and savouring the sweetness of it, too used to having a bitter taste in her mouth, a trouble swallowing down her feelings.

Her parents went to lean on the railings behind their loungers, to watch the goings on and the singer, female and jokey with the crowd that she had immediately lured in, begin a lower register cover of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

Katya kept her eyes on the water for a while, accepting when her vision became blurry. The tears weren’t persistent enough to spill over. She blinked behind the security of the black lenses of her sunglasses (come through, Marc Jacobs) and finished the last of her drink, bringing her face over the edge to peer down at where the ship cut through the waves like scissors through midnight blue silk.

She would have stayed like that for longer had a family with two young children not sidled up beside her to do the very same. She retreated, avoiding the husband’s lingering gaze, and straightened her back, holding off a sniff. She hurriedly rubbed at her nose then went to the bar to give her glass back. It was busy and all eyes fell upon her but she refused to take any more notice, unless the attention was given to her by a woman. She didn’t know if lesbians went on cruises but she was fully aware that she wasn’t so lucky as to come across a hottie. And she had accepted her special kind of loneliness a long time ago.

Her parents had come to lie down again when she returned to their spot. She had grabbed a few sodas from the bartender, even though she supposedly wasn’t allowed to order multiple drinks onto one sea pass card, and put them under the shade of her mom’s sunbed, cracking open a coke for herself. She took off her heels, arranged her bikini bottoms where they had shifted a little to the right (she was lopsided in more ways than one, it seemed) and settled, closing her eyes.

“Ok, the next one I can guarantee all of you will know and if you don’t, I will meet you after the show and give you a lecture, complete with powerpoint presentation, about why you shouldn’t be allowed human rights. I love this artist more than anything else in the world. Yes, even more than cheese, thank you, and I’m from Wisconsin. Here’s some Dolly Parton, 9 to 5, to make you even more glad you’re not at work right now. Hit it!”

Katya huffed a laugh to herself, a harsh exhale through her nose that surprised her, more so when she realised she was grinning from ear to ear. That yeehaw singing bitch sure had a personality, she thought as the music played, and she didn’t sound so bad either. Usually Katya would rather have sawed her own arm off than listen to people cover other artists’ music and, although her taste of Russian pop and Industrial Electronica was, in fact, impeccable, she wasn’t one for going to live performances. Too many people, too much standing, too much sweat, on her and everybody else.

She had no choice in the matter, right then. She couldn’t be bothered to rummage for her headphones and she didn’t quite want to either, enjoying the anticipation of what the singer would say next in between tracks.

As the last note of the song rang out, there came a range of polite clapping to whooping cheers. She almost joined in.

“Thank you. And thank you especially to the little girl up front here. I see you busting out your moves, reminding me that I’m thirty one and have back pain and creaky joints. It’ll come to you too, though, and sooner than you think, so make the most of your youth.”

She then broke out into a country-style, PG rendition of Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ and Katya didn’t stop smiling, even when the sweat on her upper lip dripped into her mouth. She tasted the saltiness, mixed with her sunblock, then mouthed along to the singer as she inflected, “Keep on turning it up, chandelier swinging, we don't give a— Film star, yeah I'm deluxe, classic, expensive, you don't get to touch, ow!”

If she kept copycatting the ‘ow!’ for the rest of the afternoon and during their traipse to the theatre to complete the mandatory muster drill, then she merely delighted in the fact that, so far, even something that might have gotten under her skin was actually sitting with her, accompanying her on her careful walk down the stairs to Deck 5 and keeping her spirits up.

“What the fuck is mustering, anyway?” She asked her parents, who then explained that no matter how many times you cruised, you couldn’t wheedle your way out of the safety briefing.

“Even when you’re three sheets to the wind.” Her mom added, definitely speaking from past experience.

She made it through the drill without clawing at her skin but was very much relieved when her parents suggested they all start getting ready for dinner. Their cabins were up on Deck 10, with their own concierge and extra snacks whenever they wanted them. Katya waved her parents off into their stateroom and opened the door to her own, which was completely identical save for the bottle of champagne on the coffee table by the balcony doors.

“Ooh.” She cooed, spotting her luggage that had been delivered and leaving her mini suitcase behind her to skip over to the note left next to the ice bucket. “Dear Katya, welcome on board. We hear it’s your first time cruising and we are delighted that you have chosen to join us as we sail the Caribbean. Your parents informed us that you’ve been having a rough time recently and so we want to make sure you have the best possible opportunity to relax with us. They have booked you in for a Thai Herbal Poultice Massage tomorrow, 23rd December, at The Spa on Deck 12. We look forward to seeing you there at 16:00.” The card was signed off by the hospitality team. Katya rolled her eyes at how fucking cute her mom and dad could be.

She opened the doors to the balcony and stepped out, her heels clacking against the wooden floor. There were two loungers facing the horizon, the still-clear sky. She popped open her bottle, poured herself a lonely glass of champagne and sat, sipping it with the sounds of water crashing into the ship’s side and drowning out the self pity laying in wait.

-

“I love myself. I love myself. Huh huh huh huh huh, I love myself.”

The red sequin, low cut jumpsuit she had put on really did bring out the best - or the worst, depending on perspectives - in her. She cackled like a maniac at her reflection, sprucing up her hair one last time for volume before grabbing her Stella McCartney crossbody bag and checking that she had what she needed: lipstick, phone (thankfully now without a signal), sea pass card, tiny matryoshka she took everywhere with her.

“Ow!” She slapped her own ass, jutting it out before spinning on the spot and dancing to an unheard beat, kicking her leg up every now and then like she was showing her shoes off to the heavens. No one was watching from up there. She laughed at herself again, relishing in the ache of her cheek muscles, took one last look around her room for the next twelve nights then went to knock on her parents’ door.

“Look at you!” Her mom exclaimed. “You look fabulous.”

“Thank you, so do you. Both of you.”

Her father admittedly did scrub up well when he tried, wearing a pastel coloured shirt tucked into some dress pants, and her mom, with her short blonde hair and bold pink lipstick, showed off her petite figure in a purple cocktail dress.

Her parents led the way to the restaurant where two queues had formed by the doors. They joined the one on the right and Katya by this point knew that there would be a reason for it. So, she listened to her mom and dad retell what had happened on a previous cruise when they didn’t book select dining (it was a travesty!) and went along without much consideration. A waiter brought them to their table, taking them across the garishly carpeted floor to the right side of the restaurant, up by the windows, and introduced the trio who would serve them that evening.

The sommelier took their drinks orders and their sea pass cards, and the female waiter served them artisanal bread to tuck into whilst they scanned the menu. It was all explained to them in good detail and, once they’d made their choices and the food came, it was very much up to scratch.

Katya hadn’t eaten as much as she did that night since she could remember, fit to burst as she trudged lackadaisically to the theatre for the 9pm show. She had decided to humour her parents by attending it with them for the first night but planned to escape and do her own thing from then on. Unless Irina Allegrova, Svetlana Loboda or the entire Russian ballet decided to perform for them, there was not a cat in hell’s chance that she was going to endure or survive terrible musical theatre, ‘cabaret’ or magic tricks.

And it was exactly as dire as she had imagined, the only saving graces being the acrobats who swung from the coloured glass ceiling, flipping and doing all sorts of gasp-worthy gymnastics. She sighed in relief when the house lights went up and her dad proposed they went to the ice bar. She was pleasantly tipsy, having steadily consumed more alcohol throughout the day than she trusted herself to have on her own, and so, three more cocktails down, she could no longer tell whether the waves had really begun to roll or if she was drunk.

By half eleven, her mom and dad were ready to turn in and so she waved them off and wandered up to Deck 14 again, seeking out the wind to cool her reddening face and perhaps a view of the stars. For all she struggled with how alone she was most of the time, she still valued her own space, a slice of peace and quiet to reflect and re-energise, away from the noise/judgement/distractions of a crowd, of people who didn’t understand her and who she did not understand in turn.

She got out of the elevators and walked to where she had sunbathed that afternoon. The loungers had been put away, fixed to the inner railings to prevent any damage or sliding, and so she had a lot more space to zig zag aimlessly, the running track beneath her feet not as stable as it had felt before. There were a few others on deck but, as the outside bars closed by a certain time, she could hear the draw of the sky lounge, forward of the ship, where guests were rounding off their day with more live music and dancing.

And then, if she listened closely enough, she could hear her.

She didn’t move right off the bat, as much as she was inexplicably drawn to that voice, that way of engaging an audience. She rested and inhaled the fresh ocean air and let it wrap her up, protective like a blanket yet enticing and entrancing too, until the swaying calmed like temperate water. She collected herself, dabbed at her heated cheeks with the back of her hand and straightened the v neck of her jumpsuit. As if she was preparing herself.

The entrance to the lounge wound around, crystal beaded curtains obscuring a seating area of crushed grey velvet sofas and easy chairs. The carpet was printed, though there was a large dance floor carved out, and windows swept around almost the entirety of the lounge, offering an unobstructed view in the daytime and an illusion of complete darkness at night, as if there was nothing for miles except for that room. As she reached the main bar, its marble countertop and matching white leather stools, she turned to her left, to the stage, and stopped in her tracks, uncaring that she had gotten in the way of a group of men trying to order.

There she was. Singing Believe by Cher, this time with a full backing band in dapper navy suits and an electric Fender instead of whatever acoustic she had played before. She looked nuts. Positively crazy and out there and perhaps a little cheap. But Katya got it, she saw the influence of Dolly and backwoods Wisconsin, and she couldn’t take her eyes off of her.

“Excuse me.” One of the men coughed.

Katya shook herself like she had got a shiver and stepped to the edge of the dance floor where she could continue her observations uninterrupted.

Her voice wasn’t overbearing or theatrical. Gentle, actually, emotive, as if she still took the lyrics to heart, even if she was just singing a song that she had to include in her wheelhouse because of how universal it was. Katya, however, always associated Cher with the gay clubs, memories of mixing with the bears and the leather daddies and the twinks - becoming the star of the show, admired and revered, if only for her fashion taste, before finding herself a woman for the night.

Katya bit her lip, eyeing the hemline of her dress and the chunky thighs it showed off, the patent platform boots that exaggerated her tanned legs further, the bell sleeves and vintage vibe that otherwise covered her up, kept her modest, proper and professional.

It might have been in poor taste to think so, but Katya was pretty certain she was only one of those things. And the urge to find out was growing by the second.

The song came to an end, the whole place erupting with applause. Most of the children had cleared out and gone to bed by then so the floor was filled with couples, friends and relatives all toasting the start to their vacation, their Christmas away. It didn’t feel like Christmas, even with the decorations dotted around the ship that Katya had paid meagre attention to. She wasn’t a festive person - Scrooge had nothing on her - but there was something relieving about travelling through a hot climate, not having to worry about schedules and gifts and food, whilst everyone back home was fretting or freezing. She went to her parents’ every year and it was lovely enough. But this year was different. She needed a change and she was more than ready for some light.

“Thank you, thank you. Please, everyone give it up for the boys in the band!” The crowd cheered again as the men in suits waved and nodded their heads in humble appreciation. “So, I have been reliably informed that it’s Christmas very soon. And you’ll be wondering how on earth I could have forgotten but, lemme tell ya, the concept of time goes out the teeny tiny cabin windows when you’ve been on this thing for nine months and every day looks like something off a postcard. I live a very hard life, I know, feel free to cry tears of sympathy at my feet.” She cut herself off when a man made a move to actually do it, staring him down until he retreated and the rest of the audience laughed. “Anyway,” She widened her eyes and shook her head in played up judgement, “This is ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.”

Katya bit her lip, conscious, this time, of how big her smile was, how maniacal she probably appeared. All alone, her entire body covered in sequins and crushing on a stranger. Wow. Perhaps in her twenties that would have been tame, but now - dear god. Maybe she was going through the midlife crisis she just assumed lesbians escaped, considering how coming out was enough trauma in and of itself, enough actual turmoil for a lifetime, enough to stave off the kind of drama straight men made up to excuse shit like cheating and buying a sports car...

The song’s first line overtook her (very, very rare) thoughts about men and, before she knew it, she was mouthing along again, half willing the singer to look at her and see something in her that resonated or intrigued.

And when she did, she wasn’t at all prepared for it, the vulnerability of being caught watching, of being seen. Their eyes met and it was like being bulldozed over. Her breath caught in her throat and her sleeves felt tight, constrictive around her armpits, all too close for comfort. And then she was being pointed at, serenaded by the final line, “All I want for Christmas is you, baby.” She didn’t know what it was that compelled her, but she just had to, it was too much, and so she fled, running as best she could in her heels down the three flights of stairs and back to her cabin, accidentally letting the door slam behind her and diving head first under the bed covers like a child hiding from a ghost.

She nudged off her shoes and took deep inhalations, chasing the scentless detergent that had been used to get her sheets such a pristine white. The mini chocolate that had been left on her pillow had slid off and onto her wrist once she had lifelessly flopped on top of the mattress, altering its centre of gravity. “Yeah, I know the feeling, bitch.” She huffed a humourless laugh when her eyes focussed upon its foil wrapping.

She bit the air, snapping her teeth, then sighed and rolled onto her back, too uncomfortable to fall asleep fully clothed. A shame, as that would have been all too in keeping with her maudlin overreaction. Heaving a sigh as she stood, she stripped off, leaving her jumpsuit in a pile of sparkling red, pawed at her face rather pathetically with a wipe, then got back into bed, naked.

The gentle rock of the waves and the sound of the distant shush of them brought her back to some semblance of an even keel. She had forgotten to turn the lights out but darkness chased her, nevertheless.

Chapter Text

It was 7:30am and she was at the gym, her mom showing her up on the crosstrainer and her dad doing some heavy lifting over by the weights section.

“How often do you workout nowadays?” Her mom asked, much less out of breath than Katya was.

“Is that your way of telling me I’ve lost my stamina?”

“I’m merely enquiring!”

“There’s no ‘merely’ about it. But, to answer your question,” She huffed, increasing her resistance for the next interval, “Not as much as I used to. My arms are back to looking like underbaked baguettes.”

Her mom promised to be her alarm and drag her out of bed every morning for some sort of exercise before she was to order several plates at breakfast. When Katya tried to argue that she was on vacation, she quickly retorted, “Yeah, on vacation from being a lazy ass. Now move it, bony butt.”

She rolled her eyes but pushed herself harder and, though she was dripping with sweat and wheezing by the end of it, she was glad to be held accountable, to be forced to do something actually good for herself. Maybe that was what holidays were truly about.

The cabin shower wasn’t the tightest spot she’d squeezed into but there wasn’t much room for any of her usual antics (almost slipping three or four times from shuffling in circles and counting, “Ekam, dve, trini, catvari, panca, sat, sapta, astau, nava, dasa.” As if she was doing intensive Ashtanga in Mysore. Nothing dirtier, unfortunately). She put on a bikini, denim shorts and a t-shirt to cover up, shoved her hair in a messy bun and hid her face with her biggest sunglasses. “Namaste.” She bowed to herself in the mirror before meeting her parents in the corridor to make their way downstairs.

“We much prefer the restaurant.” Her dad explained.

“I’m sure the buffet is nice but it’s just too much in the morning and usually where all the families go. I don’t want toddlers screaming before I’ve even had a cup of coffee, and you can’t beat silver service.”

Katya huffed a laugh at her, pretending to throw a tantrum like a spoiled brat (well, if the shoe fits…) and wailing, “But mom, I want pancakes like the other girls have.”

She settled on a selection of continental instead, gorging on croissants and muesli and large plates of fruit like she hadn’t eaten half of the ship’s pantry the night before.

As she winced from the bitterness of her pink grapefruit, she tried not to let further distaste fill her mouth, remembering how she had behaved so foolishly just from a couple of seconds of the singer’s gaze fixed on hers. It seemed like it hadn’t happened, in the light of day, that it was too jarring - interesting, even - to have been something she experienced. Because, if she did let herself think about it, it was powerful. Beyond a memory, transformed and actualised into feeling. And that was the very reason she couldn’t take it. A connection like that didn’t come to someone so comfortable with being disconnected. From everyone, everything.

They were sailing at a steady pace, or so said the captain during her morning address, and there was a pleasant breeze up on the Lido deck. As it was still relatively early, they easily found three loungers all together and staked their claim to them, and Katya, covered in sunblock, collapsed onto one, shoved her airpods in and blasted her eardrums with some Ukrainian pop.

When she had thoroughly exhausted her favourite albums (MARUV’s Black Water and KAZKA’s NIRVANA. Total bops, as the kids were saying), she determined that she should have been using the time to better herself, some way, somehow. She switched to her Audible app and tried listening to one of the many, many self help books she had bought over the past few months.

She woke up some time later to her voice, loud and persistent enough over the dull drone of her audiobook. She tugged out her earphones to hear her clearly.

“Good morning everyone! As Captain Kate said earlier, it’s a lovely day and we’ve got so much entertainment here on board for you, starting now, all through to the early hours. I’m just here to remind you not to forget it’s our first formal night tonight and that we’ll be having a deck party right here on Deck 12 until late. Check your daily activity planner in your stateroom for a full rundown of events. So, bring your dancing shoes and there may even be some prizes up for grabs...See you there and have a great first day at sea!”

Katya couldn’t see her from where she was reclining, her back to the pool area. The urge to sit up and turn around and leer over the railings got the better of her but by the time she had moved into the right position, there was no sign of her. She had likely scampered off to rehearsals or whatever the fuck singers on cruise ships did all day in the middle of the ocean. Katya didn’t fucking know.

For all she was a bit miffed to have missed spying on her (from a safer distance this time, much to her own relief), the niggle of fear at being spotted again still made her sweat more than the sunshine and tropic heat beating down on her did.

After she downed soda after soda to chase the chill - and utilise her drinks package - Katya’s parents decided it was time for lunch. “We’re practically starving. We ate a whole four hours ago. That’s deprivation and neglect on a cruise.” Her dad joked. Katya and her mom rolled their eyes in unison, pulling on their clothes to make their way aft.

Katya felt horrendously sticky, like she shouldn’t have bothered with the shower she took earlier at all. Her clothes clung awkwardly, her neckline not sitting right. She wiped at her face with the back of her hand, fixing her sunglasses in place before squelching hand sanitiser between her palms. Again. She huffed a laugh at her parents steaming ahead.

A stream of people were entering the buffet at the same time as her. She took a second to study them, a habit to assess if she blended in or not, if she could go unnoticed. She finished rubbing her hands. Something told her to look to her left, as though she had been tapped on the shoulder, a shadow whispering her name. There she was. Looking right back at her.

“Hi.” She said, a knowing smirk upon her face, toned down from the elaborate makeup Katya had seen her in previously. She was wearing a short sleeved baby pink shirt, its buttons straining in the middle of her chest, the pussy bow tie hanging down from her neck doing little to disguise the size of her tits. A white mini skirt hugged her hips, rode up too short to complement the attempt at sophistication on her top half.

Katya swallowed. “Hi yourself.”

“Not just yet.” She pretended to smoke a blunt and winked before being pulled into a conversation with an overly excitable woman in uniform.

Katya realised she had completely lost her parents by that point and so hurried into Oceanview Cafe, flustered but much less shaken. When she found her mom and dad, she didn’t refuse their offer of sharing a bottle of prosecco with lunch, sinking into her seat, the drying sweat on her neck feeling like an absent grip.

When she spotted some brownies on the dessert counter a while later, she had a sudden urge to eat them all. It took her a few hours to realise why.

After letting all her food digest (so much fucking food), she went for a stroll around the running track, taking the stairs up to The Retreat Sundeck. It was much hotter up there but quieter and, if it weren’t for the fact that it took longer to walk to any of the bars or toilets, she would have bugged her dad as to why they didn’t situate themselves there instead of being right in the thick of things. The sun loungers were much nicer too, she mused, wistfully spotting a lone one calling out to her. She squinted up at the blazing sun, following the line of colourful flags towards the ship’s main funnel, the company’s logo in white to the side of it.

She heard an entertainment officer introduce himself and outline the activities around the pool that afternoon. She allowed herself to deflate when it was clear her favourite singer wasn’t on the line up, only men. Disappointing.

Once she had done another few laps of the ship and was in dire need of more sunblock (her pasty ass not getting burnt was the one true miracle of the trip so far) and diet coke, she got the drinks in for herself and her parents and informed them that she was going to sunbathe somewhere quieter and that she would come back and chat with them before heading off for her treatment. “So you know I’m not an ungrateful, no mannered garbage person.”

“We don’t think that, we know what you’re like.”

Katya was really rather glad that they didn’t. Not completely, anyway.

Later that afternoon, she took another shower in preparation (she was that gross), then headed to The Spa. As she made her way up from her cabin, she kept watching out for her. It was silly, not least because the ship held over four thousand people, but even more so because she knew she would have been able to tell when she was around. That sixth sense sure was potent - good ol’ lesbianism. Katya supposed getting rubbed all over by another woman was just what she needed.

The spa was silent save for the gentle tinkle of meditation music. A receptionist was working the desk, concentrating on the screen in front of her. Katya tiptoed towards her, not wanting to give her a fright like she was very capable of doing, until she raised her head and put on her best customer service smile. Katya wanted to reassure her she could be as miserable as she pleased with her but she wasn’t of the disposition to make people uncomfortable at work, so she tried to match her energy instead.

She waited a couple of minutes for her masseuse to come and get her and thanked her lucky stars that she was very hot and curvaceous and box-dye blonde and just how Katya liked her women. Unattainable.

The scent of the Thai herbs was intoxicating, rich and earthy with a little spice to them, filling the warm room and Katya’s senses in seconds, pulling her into a spell, a slackening. She lay face down on the table, her back exposed. The masseuse tucked the towel which had been covering her into her briefs, exposing the top of her crack. She liked the ones that weren’t afraid to get low down.

The heated bag of herbs was on her soon enough, being rolled and kneaded, steaming against her skin to open her pores, relax her muscles. The muslin it was made of dragged pleasurably. When she was asked if the pressure was to her liking, she barely contained a drawn out moan. “Yes. Thank you.”

After that, everything seemed to escape her. Her body, her speech, her anxieties, all pushed and pulled out, smoothed over with oil and expert hands.

The masseuse’s fingers travelled from the top of her back right to the bottom, following the path of her sciatic nerves. She went along each of her arms, returning to her neck and gripping at her tendons with her thumb and forefinger. Katya wasn’t certain but at one point it felt as if she was gliding the underside of her whole forearm up between her shoulder blades. It was exquisite, the kind of touch she got nowhere else.

Stroking down her arm again, the masseuse took a hold of her hand, pressing her thumbs into the meat of her palm and pulling on her fingers until some of them clicked. The prominent realisation of her loneliness struck the forefront of her mind, until the masseuse’s soft voice reminded her to remain serene, to focus on sensation, not aggravation.

“Turn over please, ma’am.”

Katya did, her breasts on show until the towel was brought over her again. After applying more oil, the masseuse dipped her slick hand below the covering to stroke down the centre of her chest where her heart rate truly started to pick up, like she had just been resuscitated. The masseuse edged closer to the fuller parts of her, deftly avoiding where Katya really wanted her to go. She wasn’t usually the type to like being teased but this was safe, harmless with no opportunity for anything more than exactly what she was getting, so she let herself imagine, let herself get turned on by it.

By the end, she was becoming wet, but was also more at peace than she had been all year.

“Ok, I’m going to leave you to come round and get dressed. Have a drink of water. I’ve left you a cup here. I’ll see you outside.”

“Thank you.” Katya yawned, eyes still closed to cling on to the last of her state of tranquility.

She didn’t linger at reception, thanking her masseuse and the woman at the desk and going straight to her cabin.

She knew what she needed next. It was tucked at the very bottom of her case in a grey suede pouch, unassuming like the rest of her jewellery. The gold chain was twenty four carats, too yellowy for her usual taste but she didn’t plan on wearing it in front of others so it didn’t matter. She took it out, flung it on the perfectly made bed and took all her clothes off.

The early evening sunshine shone just as brightly and silvery on the surface of the seawater, lighting her cabin naturally, making it seem cleaner than it already was. If her parents weren’t in the next stateroom, she might have opened the balcony doors, allowing the breeze in, allowing her gasps out to mix with the oceanic air.

She crawled onto the bed, conscious of the oils all over her body but too riled up to put off her pleasure any longer. She placed the chain around her neck first, easing back into the pillows. Tugging on it, she closed her eyes, arched her spine to shift deeper into the mattress. The gold vibrator was long enough to reach her breasts. She turned it on, circling the head over one nipple, then the next, feeling them become hard. Exhaling through her mouth, she used her other hand to caress her stomach, so lightly that her own touch was almost haunting. She kept moving from one nipple to the other until she got goosebumps on her arms, her toes curling from need. Not just the want to want.

She pulled the necklace off, let the chain snake across her stomach, her mound, until it slipped down in between her legs. She held the vibrator, still buzzing in her hand, over her clit, so it was only the rounded head of it that made contact. It wasn’t intense but her reaction to it was strong nonetheless. She shivered and brought the rest of the cool, gold length against herself. The vibrations resonated throughout her entire body. Katya sighed, lips parted, tilting her hips up. She had it set to constant mode, her cunt pulsing enough already, but she increased the speed to its highest, impatient and wet enough to rub it all over.

She dipped the vibrator down one side of her, bringing it back up the other, then massaged the head over her clit, making faster circles and listening to the buzz it made. She moaned, taming her volume in courtesy of the people in the room next to her, conscious, too, of her parents being so close. She felt like a teen again, hiding her porno magazines beneath her bed, her brother taking the blame for her when her mom found them while cleaning. She pictured the photographs, big breasted women with bleach blonde hair bending over and looking straight at the camera as if they were in control. She knew better now but the images flitting behind her twitching eyelids still got her off. She wasn’t a saint in waiting.

Bucking at an erratic pace, she sought release, biting her lip and scrunching up her face until she found the perfect angle, the perfect spot, and came from the combination, shuddering in silence until she stilled like the calm after a storm.

She let go of the vibrator, too worn out to bother switching it off, and flopped her arms out to the side as if she was about to make a snow angel. Katya remained in that position until the sweat dried. She needed to pee, to get ready. She hauled herself up, remembering at the last minute to clean her vibrator. It was inevitable that she would give housekeeping some kind of scare but she thought it too early in the week just yet.

“Little girl, little girl, come tidy up your wares.” She sing-songed in her favourite creepy voice before finally putting it back in her case, getting in the shower and cleaning the day away.

She got an abrupt aftershock when she remembered the deck party scheduled later that night.

-

Everything she had brought was ‘formal’ compared to what some of the guests around her were wearing. Her parents wanted to have a drink at the ice bar before dinner and so she had rushed when she realised what scant time she had left to pull together a look, dry her hair and do her makeup before they knocked on her door. Luckily a bit of mascara, brow pomade and red lipstick was enough to portray some kind of effort and it was only her fringe that she really needed to style (life was so hard). She had packed her suitcase to the brim with her finest clothes, having not worn anything beyond work-appropriate attire and sweatpants recently, and so she was spoilt for choice.

She had picked a ridiculous black and red striped chiffon dress, its sleeves long to cover her tattoos and detailed with extra material down the sides that danced when she moved. The hem reached the floor but showed off her legs as she walked, a huge slit up the front. She had put on a pair of fishnet tights and her trusty black Louboutins. She decided against jewellery - nothing compared to the necklace she had worn earlier.

Dinner was delicious and she managed to convince her parents to skip the show, enticing them to the Oceanview Bar, far aft of the ship. It was pitch black outside but muggy and warm and Katya liked how the breeze swirled the excesses of her dress. The gushing of the water below them kept Katya’s head in the right place, a constant reminder of where she was, what she had, who she was to be thankful for. The bar was busy and she drank champagne without noticing how much as she and her parents chatted away.

Then, the music over by the pool started up and it took all Katya’s willpower not to rush her mom and dad over to where the action was, to see her.

The deck had been decorated with even more flags, extra lights and a disco ball above one of the bars. Officers, dressed in their finest, greeted guests and attendants handed out streamers and party poppers for later. Tables had been arranged around the edge of the makeshift dance floor and the pool was lit in purples, blues, greens, changing colour in time with the music.

Katya did a full three sixty turn once her parents led her to the dance floor, a feeble attempt at scoping her elusive singer out. She wanted to know her name, even just her band’s name. Seeing her perform again was a lot more thrilling than it ought to have been and, since they had exchanged a brief greeting, the confidence she once possessed to talk to women was slowly crawling back to her.

A waiter came with Caribbean themed cocktails and she didn’t hesitate to pick up a large one, popping the decorative fruit from the rim of the glass into her mouth and avoiding his gaze, searching for eyes framed by huge false lashes and eyeliner instead.

Her parents got her dancing and she was one more drink away from doing it seriously. They did the same moves every time, their one rehearsed rock ‘n’ roll not-quite-jive and her mom in particular earned a few cheers and claps at the end of the song. The people around them clearly didn’t know what to make of Katya and she smirked to herself as a middle aged woman got an eyeful of her underwear when she whooshed her dress about along to the beginning of the next track.

Halfway through, it faded out. Katya whipped her head around to check the stage. There she was, putting her guitar strap over her magenta-pink velvet gown. It was high necked, damn it, but it was beautiful on her, with a bow detail over one of her shoulders.

“Good evening everyone.” She announced, upbeat and smiling. Her lips were overdrawn. Katya usually hated that but on her she could forgive it. Her highlight was a bit much, too, but, similarly, Katya thought it suited her. “So before we really get this party started, I have to check: are you ready to dance?”

Her mom, now totally drunk, shouted, “Yes!” beside her and cackled.

“I can’t hear you!” She affected. Katya’s mom screamed even louder until the singer laughed right into her microphone, loud and abrasive, “Ok, ok, all of the Caribbean can hear you.”

Katya pretended to hide behind her hands, but peeked through to see her watching, smiling a different smile than the one she painted on. Katya didn’t know if she was just envisioning what she wanted to, but it spurred her on anyway.

“Alright, I’m gonna be totally original here. One, two, one two three four!” She counted her band in and Katya chuckled to herself as she recognised the song - P!nk’s Get The Party Started.

Everyone else was dancing but she found herself stepping side to side, entranced like she was a groupie witnessing her very favourite musician. She couldn’t look away - and didn’t, even when the singer looked back. Katya had gotten bolder, regained some fire. She winked in response and tried not to lose her balance when she got a coy smile in return, knocking her off her feet. Metaphorically, of course.

“You fuckin’ bitch.” She muttered under her breath, widening her stance. Perhaps she was steadier than she thought.

Up next were songs that were undoubtedly crowd pleasers, but ones that didn’t spark the same joy. Katya could tell, the light in her dimming. Not enough for other people to notice (they weren’t interested like Katya was anyway, didn’t pick up on the inferences) but obvious to her. She was still a star, backed by the thousands of others up in the midnight sky, yet Katya yearned to see her perform something dear to her, close to her heart. She wanted to listen to the way it beat concomitantly.

After a couple of hours and definitely too many drinks, the crowd had begun to thin out, leaving Katya more space on the dance floor to twirl and do everything in her power to get herself noticed. It wasn’t difficult, of course, but her stream of thoughts were addled and she spun with a revived energy, a muscle memory of what it was to be alive.

Her parents decided to turn in as the band took a break. Katya saw an opportunity, whereas usually she would have cowered from it. She tracked the singer’s movements - first, joking with her band members, high-fiving the drummer, then heading to the bar to order drinks. Katya blinked, tried to focus her vision on the glass, on her posture as she leant forwards to thank the mixologist.

Katya swayed on her feet like there was an unexpected wave beneath board, but she made her way towards the bar with as much dignity as she felt she was worth, crashing next to her with less grace than she intended, however. The bartender asked her what she would like and she ordered a diet coke, fully aware that she was more hammered than she had been for years.

“So, do you come here often?” The singer smirked, sipping on her cocktail and peering at Katya through her lashes.

That she immediately struck up a conversation with her threw Katya for a second, not giving her a chance to think of something witty or interesting to say. “Only through my wormhole.” She responded. It wasn’t her best and maybe it didn’t make sense but it got a laugh anyway.

“Trixie.” She said, reaching out a hand for Katya to shake.

Katya relished in the warmth of her palm, felt the roughness of her finger tips and smiled. “Katya.”

Great moves out there.” Trixie intoned. She took another sip and Katya zoned in on her lips with little regard to how cross eyed she probably appeared.

“Thanks, all those years of intensive training at Boston Ballet have prepared me very well for this moment.”

Trixie instantly caught on to her sarcasm, matched it until they were playing off of one another as if they had known each other for years. Trixie asked her questions, polite though they were, but mocked her answers playfully, and Katya, in turn, unleashed her abstract humour, the things she only normally announced to herself.

“How long does this thing go on ‘til? I had no idea cruises were all about, y’know, wildin’ out.” Katya straightened herself up and resisted pressing the sweating coke can against her flushed face. “I’ve not seen my parents get lit like this since Y2K.”

“Ah, I knew you were a first timer.” Trixie nodded like a wise oracle. “And old. We’ve got an hour’s set left and then some of the entertainment crew will keep it going in their cabins until, hmm, five maybe? Depends who’s hosting.”

“Holy shit. And then what, you get up and do it all over again?”

Trixie shrugged as if it was nothing. “Can’t deprive the elderly of their music for ballroom dancing at midday. The atrium, deck five. You should come, you’d fit right in.”

Katya bowled over in hysterics, her ass knocking into another guest. Trixie joined her in a twisted duet, smug and screeching, and was only interrupted when her bassist told her they were up. Katya tried not to slump in disappointment, her elbow slipping on the wooden ledge of the bar. “Shit, I should go too.”

Trixie pursed her lips. “I’ll miss you out there. Sure you can’t last one more hour?”

Katya shook her head, regrettably. “You said it yourself, I’m old! And fucked. And my mother is going to get me up at seven to go to the gym, oh my god.” She splatted her palm to her forehead a lot harder than she expected herself too. “Ow.”

“There’s always tomorrow. Ballroom dancing, remember?” She placed her empty glass down, stuck her tongue out then wished her sweet, boring dreams. “Nice talking to you.”

“You too.” Katya choked out before Trixie left to return to the stage, her rightful place.

She hobbled back down to her cabin, having taken her heels off as soon as she got indoors, and, this time, did collapse into bed fully clothed.

She woke up to her mom at her door with the same satisfied grin as she fell asleep with. Plus a whole bout of nausea. She went to the gym anyway, suffered through a workout and stuffed her face with french toast afterwards, which, she adamantly protested, was what actually cured her hangover. Her fucking fitness family had distinctly other opinions.

“Do you want to go to the sundeck today?” Her dad suggested when they were walking to reception to pick up the newspapers. With no internet (you could pay for wifi but it was very expensive and very unnecessary) and no phone signal, it really seemed as if they were on a different planet, a whole world away from politics, stock markets, any responsibility beyond remaining awake long enough to eat and drink as much as physically possible. There was a ship-made paper which summarised news from across the world, complete with crosswords and sudoku. Her mom quickly snatched up those pages whilst her dad flicked straight to the sports. Katya couldn’t have cared less about what was going on.

She had been presented with a dilemma, the most serious one given the circumstances (as in, not serious at all). For all she wanted the mellow silence of the highest deck, the heat and the better loungers, and to be removed from the majority of the other guests, she wanted to be able to hear Trixie when she performed that afternoon, perhaps even see her if she had the gall. Talk to her if she really felt forward.

“No, it’s ok,” She replied, putting on an act of nonchalance, “The captain said it’ll be even hotter today so this sweat machine will need constant refreshment. Thanks though.”

There were miraculously only free spaces on the port side, which meant Katya was in direct view of where Trixie was going to set up stage if she turned around. Until it was time to do so, she lay down, closed her eyes and basked in the sunshine, switching from listening to music, her self help books and her mom ranting about relatives she didn’t care about doing idiotic things.

“Anyway, enough about them.” She huffed and Katya would have been grateful for the reprieve were she not certain of what was coming next. “What’s really been going on with you?”

She was glad of her sunglasses, of being side to side instead of face to face, of the blinding daylight bouncing off the water all around them, enclosing her and averting direct intentness. Her throat felt tight and the sickness she had experienced when she had been woken at seven, true to word, came back, rising to the top of her stomach and threatening to rear up further like a tsunami.

Her mom must have sensed her panic. “I don’t mean to pry, Katya. I’m not asking like it’s gossip or like the stupid shit Anthony and his family get up to. I care and I worry and you know that.”

“I know.” She gulped, mouth dry like she had set foot on land and buried her face straight in the sand. “I’m not...uh, I don’t want to— not yet, not just yet. I want to have a bit of a, uh, break from it first, y’know? Before I start thinking too much again. It’s not that I don’t trust you or, whatever, I dunno but...do you understand?”

“Of course, darling. I’m here. Today, next week, next month - whenever you need me.”

Katya had to pretend she needed the toilet to go and collect herself. She cried into a fresh hand towel in one of the bathrooms and managed to wipe her tears before the cleaner came in to ensure everything was spotless. The sight of a solitary teardrop on the marble rim of the sink flooded her with shame. She rubbed it away. It spoiled the white towel further. She threw it in the mini laundry hamper under the counter. She didn’t have it in her to check if the attendant had cottoned on to what she had been doing and bowed her head as she left when she said, “Thank you ma’am.”

She got drinks for the three of them, then joined her parents again, remarking on the heat and how tanned her mom was getting already. Katya held it all together and, as they sat down for lunch, genuinely felt a lot more at ease. She had fast become accustomed to the way of living on board and spending time choosing what food she fancied, what desserts looked most appealing, helping break up her day. Knowing what was soon to come, she filled herself up and shifted in her chair from the excitement she was regaining, that which overtook the sadness.

-

“Good afternoon, everyone. I’ll be here with you until four today, singing some songs to get you through the real tedious job of lying down.” Trixie paused expertly for people to chuckle. “Ok, ok, that’s not fair, I know. Like, this gentleman here carrying one, two, three, four beers back to his sunbed. You’re doing some real hard work there, sir, you deserve a good rest now.”

Katya leant on the railings, scorching hot under her forearms. She was sipping a pina colada and smiling around the pineapple chunk still slotted on the rim. She was nuts, absolutely nuts. She was also absolutely enamoured and Katya did her best to conceal her glee at watching Trixie interact with the crowd but there was very little she could actually do to help it. And after the momentary setback she’d had, she didn’t want to.

“Alright, so, I know we’re probably all still recovering from the deck party last night so it’s just me and my acoustic guitar for now. But, if you’d like to catch a performance with the full band of hunks that are usually behind me - yes, Linda, you do, don’t you - then come to the sky lounge from ten fifteen.”

Katya knew exactly where she’d be spending her night.

“I’m gonna kick this off with one of my favourite songs from this decade. This is Video Games by Lana Del Rey.”

Katya wasn’t silly enough to think that Trixie picked such a song for her. She’d have had no idea that she was a fan of Lana and they hadn’t even talked about music the night before. But something about her choice seemed to speak to Katya’s soul, or at least revitalise her ability to overly romanticise in her own imagination.

Trixie’s country take on the hit was beautiful and it pained Katya when not every single person went wild at the end. Not that she showed her downright euphoria either but still.

“Ok, the next one is a little cheese balls but let’s just do it anyway because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re on a cruise and we aren’t averse to cheesiness here. You might even say we’re cheese-sea. Huh!”

Katya observed the smatterings of laughter, the way Trixie took a sip of water and cocked out her hip. She wasn’t dainty but her femininity was evidently an integral part of her, from her Brigitte Bardot hairstyle right down to her cute, baby pink cowboy boots.

Katya didn’t clock the song at first during the guitar intro Trixie strummed, but cackled like Trixie was in on her joke with Fena about Roar being the soundtrack to her downward spiral. It almost made her wish she could message Fena and tell her about the coincidence but it was nice to have something amusing to keep for her when she got home. Poor Fena had been subject to so much drear and not enough cheer. This tidbit could be an offering, Katya thought.

The rest of Trixie’s set was fun and upbeat without pulling out anything overly energetic. She performed songs from the sixties right up to the present day and, even if she didn’t recognise the title or the artist, Katya felt like she recognised Trixie a little better from some of her choices. When Trixie announced the last of her set, Katya told her parents she was going to the bar but didn’t offer to get them anything. She ignored the side-eye they gave each other, wriggled her feet into her slides and checked that she hadn’t accidentally been flashing a nipple or two. The red bikini she wore wasn’t exactly full coverage at the best of times.

Taking the stairs down, she deftly avoided bumping into the men lingering there, focussing instead on making sure Trixie knew she was around and that she wasn’t just a kooky character - she had a slamming figure too that Trixie, whatever her inclination, would be silly not to appreciate. Katya was almost a hundred percent certain that she was in some way of the sapphic persuasion (no straight woman sang Come To My Window by Melissa Etheridge with the kind of emotion Trixie had) and she reasoned to herself that she had to be sure before she took things any further.

Katya reached the optimal viewpoint from the bar just as Trixie began to sing, “There’s a dark and a troubled side of life…” Katya almost screeched out a laugh at the perfect timing.

“H-e-a-r, Trixie, I’m here.” She tittered to herself instead, signalling for her trusty diet coke and lots of ice.

“There’s a bright and a sunny side too. If we meet with the darkness and strife, the sunny side we also may view.”

Katya stepped away from the bar, standing expectantly with one leg bent and her arms at her sides so Trixie could get the complete, unobstructed picture of her. From her closer position, Katya could see the sweat on Trixie’s forehead, a couple of drops slowly making their way down her temples. The short, pink sundress she was wearing looked light and cottony but Katya couldn’t fathom wearing even that much clothing as the temperature soared.

When Trixie started her instrumental interlude, she finally caught sight of her. Katya’s heart fluttered, actually fucking fluttered. But she embraced the alien feeling, just glad she could still feel something. Katya smirked when Trixie fumbled a note and applauded (as best she could with a drinks can sweating in her hand) ever so tauntingly when she regained her composure.

By the end of the song, Katya noted the extra flush to Trixie’s face and yelled obnoxiously loudly to supersede the clapping of those around her.

“Thank you, thank you very much. My name’s Trixie Mattel and you’ve been a wonderful audience, yet again.” She reminded everyone about her show later that night and waved to say her goodbyes for now.

Katya waited, once Trixie had taken off her guitar and put it back in its case, to see what she would do. She was using her own allure as bait and the sheer elation that overtook her when Trixie fell for it hook, line and sinker was heady. Trixie instantly darted over to her.

“That was all your fault.” She pretended to grumble.

Katya furrowed her brow, acted innocent. “What was?”

“You know exactly what. Those boobs of yours could sink a thousand ships, never mind just this one. It’s a miracle I even remembered my own name after witnessing all this.” She flapped her hand about, making an oval shape in the air in front of Katya, then wiped her forehead with the back of her other hand.

“Well, I think it’ll still be smooth sailing if you’ve been on here nine months with those knockers hiding under there.”

“So you’ve noticed?” Trixie retorted without missing a beat.

“I have multiple eyes…” She leered, jutting out her chin and wiggling her jaw from side to side as if it was unhinged.

“Yeah never mind your third eye, you’ve got a fourth in your armpit, a fifth popping out your stomach.”

“And the sixth is buried deep in the folds of my pussy.”

Trixie put her head in her hands, performatively disassociating herself from Katya and pretending to be disgusted. “Oh, my god.” She squawked, making Katya hack out a series of violent coughs from the hilarity of it all.

Of course, it was inevitable that they were interrupted, and Katya sneakily rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses at one of the entertainment officers animatedly reminding Trixie about her schedule.

“Thanks, Jan.” She said and gave Katya a wink before motioning that she had to get going. “Will I see you later?”

“Not if I see you, with all my eyes, first.” She beamed and watched Trixie huff a laugh as she left, guitar case in hand and with a purposeful (surely) sway to her hips.

Getting ready for dinner, Katya decided on a semi-sheer, ruffled ivory blouse, a black leather mini skirt and her Louboutin fishnet thigh boots. She pulled her hair into a high ponytail, straightening her fringe then adding a handful of sticky googly eyes to the extra hairpiece she used to wrap around and disguise her hair tie. “Genius!” She remarked to herself in the mirror, wondering if Trixie would think the same.

The sky lounge was busy when she and her parents got there after her mom and dad had been to the show and she had sat at the Oceanview Bar with a book and a virgin cocktail. They managed to get a table on the edge of the dance floor and, when a waiter came to take their order, Katya blanked him the first time. She didn’t mean to, obviously, but it was at that exact moment that Trixie caught her eye, got a twinkle in her own and practically screamed in delight upon spotting the addition to Katya’s outfit that night.

“Katya.” Her dad prompted and she shook herself out of Trixie’s bewitchment. “You’re spacey today. What’s got into you?” He asked when the waiter had left.

“Nothing.” She bit her lip, followed Trixie’s arms floating in the air as she danced behind her microphone stand. “Not yet, anyway.”

Chapter Text

It was Christmas Day and Katya was sitting on her balcony, looking out over Frederiksted Pier and beyond the palm tree lined port to the island of St. Croix. With beaches aplenty and turquoise sea as clear as crystal, the view was impeccable and so beautifully far removed from the grey sludge of snow in the Boston suburbs. Katya took a deep inhalation, well rested and relaxed. She had her feet up on the railing, the red of her nail polish drying quickly in the morning warmth. Her mom had allowed her a day off from the gym and she was sure as hell taking advantage of that.

She had woken almost as early but instead of pulling on her shorts and sports bra, she had thought over the events of the night before and let her hands wander her naked body. Trixie had been fucking entertaining, there was no doubt about that, and whilst Katya hadn’t been able to grab her at the end of the band’s set, they had sent each other flirtatious winks across the room. The DJ had taken over before midnight so Katya hadn’t had chance to wish her happy holidays but, that morning, as she took time with herself, she was positive that they had plenty of opportunity later.

Katya had given herself the gift of two consecutive orgasms, both from her fingers alone. It seemed being cooped up on a giant boat with too much space between her and the object of her desire had repercussions, but she certainly wasn’t going to complain about it. Her libido had taken a real hit recently so she was more than happy to even just get wet, never mind come harder than she had in months.

She wondered if Trixie would be flattered or put off by such information.

Breakfast was light because Katya and her parents had pre-booked a bar on the beach for lunch and there was traditional Christmas Dinner in the evening onboard. They got off the ship just after nine and wandered to Fort Frederik, a bright red US National Historic Landmark which was built in the 1750s to ward off pirates. Her dad unfortunately wanted to take a rum distillery tour (what was it with men and their interest in liquor that tasted like gasoline?) and so she was lumbered with that until midday, when they made their way back to the coast to Rainbow Beach.

The beach hut bar was wooden, painted all sorts of colours, and bustling with tourists and locals alike ordering tacos and fried shrimp and Cruzan cocktails. Overlooking the sea, the three of them echoed their disbelief that that was how they were spending their Christmas and Katya suddenly got the overwhelming urge to be sincere and express her gratitude to her parents for what they had done for her. She had their presents back in the cabin as they decided to spend the day together first before opening them.

“I can’t thank you enough for bringing me here.” Katya said into her glass of ‘Cruzan Chaos’, clinking her metal straw. The drink was sufficiently sweet in order to disguise the rum. “It’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten and, uh, I hope you guys know how much it...y’know.” She trailed off, embarrassed. “I feel, like, all new and, uh, calm already. Happy, even.”

Her parents nodded in understanding. “We don’t expect this trip to cure everything. This kind of thing doesn’t work that way, and you’re all too aware of that, no doubt.” Her mom explained, taking her hand. “But it’s something, hey?”

“Sure is something. Fuck, look at this. It’s stunning, so stunning.”

They sunbathed on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Katya dipped in and out of the sea, spotting urchins by the rocks and doing handstands on the firmer sand by the water like she used to when she was a child. She took a short walk to a more deserted patch of beach, snapping photos and even the odd selfie or two (or eleven), and stood tall with her arms held out wide and her face up to the sun, welcoming it all into her, presenting herself as a receptacle. She didn’t feel so empty anymore. Though it might have been temporary, she vowed to herself to make the most of it.

Coming back onto the ship, they were greeted with champagne and steel drum versions of popular Christmas songs. Katya cringed but went with it. They walked up to the Lido deck to get refreshments, her dad complaining about not taking the elevators the entire trek up. Katya basked in the last bit of sunshine. Then, they all returned to their staterooms to prepare for drinks and dinner.

Katya still didn’t feel particularly festive but she did find putting herself together a little differently every night very fun and aimed to get more daring as the vacation went on, perhaps clashing prints, perhaps donning even more sequins than she had already. She was almost part of the decorations.

In the shower, her mind ran away with her, speculating about when she would see Trixie, what she would be wearing, what she would say. A countless stream of scenarios rushed through her, beating against her rousing chest until she turned the water off and hurried out to get dry.

Seeing as it was Christmas, she thought red was the only suitable colour to be wearing and, since she had already shown off her sequin jumpsuit, the next best thing was her crazy, not-quite-Baroque printed dress. Short sleeved, close fitting and coming just above her knees, it paired well with some red, dangly statement earrings and black, flared heel platforms. Open toe shoes were daring for her (she thought feet should be illegal) but her polished nails matched the red of her dress perfectly and it satisfied her to have everything come together.

Getting ready was a silly thing to feel accomplished about but there had been too many days where doing even the most basic of tasks had been completely unobtainable. For Katya, this was a giant, towering step in the right direction.

The ice bar had been decorated with blue and silver baubles, organised in a pattern so it looked as if they were fading in colour the further they went up, like ice becoming transparent as it starts to melt. Lights flew up and down overhead like shooting stars. The mixologists were putting on a show, the three of them entertaining everyone waiting by juggling their shakers, flipping the large pouring bottles of spirits and cheering themselves on to encourage the small crowd they had attracted to do the same. Katya’s dad was enthralled, her mom rolled her eyes and sighed, “Men.”

There were special cocktails on the menu but Katya settled for champagne.

“It’s ok to have a drink, Katya.” Her mom reassured her in her ear as her dad put their order in, no longer needing to show their sea pass cards as the bartender recognised them, knew their surname off by heart. “We’re here, watching over you. I mean that in a nice way,” She rushed out when Katya made to move away in questioning, “We won’t let anything get out of hand, is all I mean. You’re safe with us.”

Katya understood. She wished she didn’t. “It’s fine. Anyway, I might order Dom Perignon later, charge it to the account and claim it as my present. I don’t think it’s included in our drinks package, right?” She joked after her parents had told her earlier that they hadn’t bought her anything else for Christmas, save for a keychain they had sneakily got from the gift shop. Katya had shrieked and called them both all the names under the sun as they had already given her too much. She didn’t know how she would ever repay them, apart from by getting better. She only owed herself that, however.

Their dinner table was decorated with extra candles but was kept much more minimal than the rest of the ship seemed to be. There were multiple choices and variations of a traditional Christmas dinner on the menu and Katya would have been overfaced were she not strangely starving from being out all day. “I still don’t understand why, it’s not like we were hiking the Himalayas.”

“It’s just you getting your appetite back.” Her father supplied, simple as always.

“Plus, you can’t exactly refuse all this.” Her mom added with a smile before lamenting how she’d no doubt put on a few pounds by the end of the cruise, as if that was a bad thing. They bickered back and forth as they were wont to do and Katya didn’t know why, but when her dad joined in to make fun of them both, it finally started to feel like Christmas.

There was a special festive production at nine and, in the spirit of goodwill to all, Katya accompanied her parents to it, but only tuned in to what was happening (turned out she could replay her favourite episode of Twin Peaks from memory alone) when the acrobats came out, dressed in sparkly red leotards, flinging themselves in all directions, bending and somersaulting and cartwheeling across the stage.

The captain was hosting a champagne reception in the atrium and so they walked to midship, the gentle sway of the boat undetectable to Katya now. She had found her sea legs near-instantly, her dad had told her and exclaimed in delight at how well she had adapted. It made it easier to have adapted from nothing, Katya bit her lip to prevent from retorting, merely accepting the compliment instead with a smile and a squeeze of his forearm.

The atrium was decorated the most extravagantly of all the areas of the ship, though the restaurant had come close with an impressively titanic Christmas tree compiled out of wine and champagne bottles and more tinsel hanging from every available surface than Katya had seen in her entire life. Jan, the entertainment officer Katya had met the day before, was welcoming everyone to the celebrations as they stood on the grand staircase, microphone in manicured hand and navy coloured uniform pristine, without a crease to be detected. Katya’s dad went and collected their champagne flutes and her mom discussed other people’s outfits as they waited for the main event.

Their captain appeared not long after, her long brown hair straight and shiny, lips painted as red as the soles of her heels. In her arms was a hairless cat, dressed in a mini Santa suit and, just when Katya thought things couldn’t get even more ridiculous, once she had finished her speech, thanking all the crew for making Christmas on board the best one yet, she got atop the bar, cat still secured tight at her side, and began pouring the champagne fountain.

“I feel like rubbing my eyes to check I’m actually seeing what I’m seeing.”

“Don’t ruin your makeup.” Her mom replied with a gentle laugh.

Katya was all too aware that Trixie’s set was about to begin. She wondered how Trixie had spent the rest of her day, if she had explored St. Croix too or had caught up on sleep, on family phone calls and video chats with friends. She assumed, if Trixie was close to her family at all, that being docked meant she had the time to pay attention to her home life a bit more but, then again, if that evening’s goings on had taught her anything, it was that there was always something happening on a cruise ship, at sea or not.

“Shall we go up to the sky lounge?” Katya broached a while later, letting enough time pass so as not to seem suspicious. She doubted her parents would have cottoned on to what was unfolding (because surely it was, surely the flirtation she and Trixie shared wasn’t for nothing?) but she didn’t want to lead them down that path if she could help it.

“So now you want a drink? Are you fed up with us?” Her dad jibed and Katya silently breathed a sigh of relief for having disguised her intention.

The place was the busiest she’d ever seen it. There weren’t any free tables near the dance floor and hardly any seats available at all. Her dad grumbled, making a fuss that he was aged and decrepit and couldn’t be on his feet, dancing all night like the young folk.

“Then go to bed, you old toad.” Her mom fired back, setting off another round of bickering that had Katya wheezing into her champagne glass.

Nothing could distract her from Trixie for long, however. Especially not when she was dressed in a horrendous, velour Santa-esque jumpsuit, complete with a thick black belt at her waist and heeled black boots. Her usual pink lips were coated in a matte red and, if Katya squinted, she could see the tiny, white iridescent glitters that she had applied on her eyelids. She looked beautiful. Katya wanted to tear her outfit right off of her.

Katya and her mom eventually managed to convince her dad to stay with them and dance the night away. The floor was packed and it didn’t seem like there was enough space for Katya. But, this time around, she craved standing out because she wanted to hold Trixie’s attention for as long as she was performing.

“Alright!” Trixie clapped into the microphone as the band finished up a song. “There are some of you on this dance floor who really know how to move. And there are some of you who really run with the phrase ‘dance like no-one’s watching’, eh?”

Trixie laughed at her own comment, bowling Katya over more so for that very reason.

Having necked a few more glasses of champagne, Katya accepted a (sadly male) officer’s request for a slow dance. It was very awkward, from her perspective at least - she was taller than he was and had only ever led before with past girlfriends. Being ‘the woman’ was a novelty. Stealing glances at Trixie over his shoulder was even more perplexing. She couldn’t read her expression. She didn’t think she looked bothered by it but when he started properly introducing himself, Katya didn’t want to give her the wrong impression. Katya spun them both, out of time with the music, so she could pull a disgusted face for Trixie’s benefit without being caught, mouthing ‘oh no’ to her before having to respond to his questions.

Katya assumed there was some kind of crew policy stating that they couldn’t hook up with passengers, on board at least. And whereas she usually reasoned that rules were made to be broken, in this case she was very glad when, at the end of the song, the officer bid her a good evening and thanked her for dancing with him, moving on to an old lady who appeared to be by herself.

Katya pursed her lips, a somber interruption amongst her otherwise smooth sailing that day, wondering if he had viewed her in the same way.

The pace picked up again when Trixie and her band began to play Last Christmas, the entire room erupting, young and old shouting the lyrics at the top of their voices, men with loosened ties sloshing their drinks and women in stockinged feet twirling like George Michael was really among them. It was a joyous sight and Katya tried to cling to the feelings of those around her to escape the pull of her own. She managed to wade the waters and keep herself afloat.

She was rather tipsy by the time Trixie’s set was coming to an end. Her parents wished her goodnight and decided from then on that it was best not to touch another drop, especially as she wanted a clear a head as possible when (if) she got a moment to chat with Trixie. Midnight had long since gone but she still needed to wish Trixie a Merry Christmas. Face to face. “Or mouth to mouth.” She mumbled to herself out of the side of her own, earning a double take from the blonde woman next to her.

“So for this one,” Trixie said into the mic before taking off her guitar and shimmying her shoulders, “I was inspired by one of the most important movies of modern times.” She paused for effect. “Mean Girls.” She didn’t get quite as many laughs as she probably expected but Katya let out a ‘woo!’ in solidarity. “For those of you who don’t know…” Trixie began explaining the Jingle Bell Rock scene, making it funnier than it actually was, and sought out Katya every now and then, like she was checking she was still amusing her.

Trixie sang the song, mimicking some of the more safe-for-work parts of the dance like The Plastics before the band deftly segued into Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next. Katya didn’t listen to a single word of it, however, still hypnotised by how Trixie had rotated her hips, one hand in the air, her other arm lax by her side as she had repeated the movement. She had then shaken her hips left to right and her boobs had bounced pornographically. Katya thought so, anyway, despite them being completely covered by her fucking girly Santa suit. She was going to have weird fantasies for weeks on end, she cursed before dashing to the bar and ordering a tall glass of ice water. She was suddenly parched.

It was a relief when the set ended, though Katya’s nerves skyrocketed as she realised she really had to be quick in order to sidle up to Trixie and catch her before she was harangued by a colleague or another member of the audience. Luckily, the kind of men who Katya assumed would try and get something out of her were either too old to still be up or too drunk, being herded back to their cabins by their wives or sisters or mothers. She took a deep breath and darted over to the side of the stage.

“Trixie.” She whisper-shouted, like she was in some terrible spy flick, just falling short of making a ‘pssst’ sound.

Trixie, leaning down to detach a cable from one of the amps, raised her head and huffed a laugh at Katya, greeting her with a megawatt smile. “Well, if it isn’t the ghost of Christmas past.”

“Here to spook your ass and remind you of your wrongdoings. You’re welcome.”

They bantered back and forth as Trixie and her band packed up. She introduced the guys to Katya. Katya, however, instantly forgot all their names, especially when Trixie mentioned conspiratorially in her ear that, unfortunately, they were all heteros.

“How do you survive?”

Trixie grinned. “You asking me or them?”

Katya laughed and waved the guys off when they said they were done for the night. Trixie turned back to them and told them to tell Bob that she wasn’t coming. Katya raised a brow. “That’s a shame.” She counted on Trixie picking up the innuendo and wasn’t one bit disappointed.

Trixie laughed in a stuttered scream. Hearing it felt like going over three bumps on a rollercoaster. “I’m not coming to Bob’s party.” She clarified once she had stopped making all her noise.

Katya’s heart skipped a beat. “Where are you going instead, then?”

“Well,” Trixie flipped her hair over her shoulder, her blonde beehive just as perfect as when Katya had first seen her that night. “I’m forbidden from bringing a passenger back to crew quarters so…”

“You’re diving overboard and making a bid for freedom?” Katya quipped, her nerves thankfully not getting the better of her. Still, she wasn’t exactly mastering the flirtatious pickup lines. But something told her that that’s exactly why Trixie was sticking around.

“Yeah, I’m just about to get my wetsuit on as we speak.”

“That’d be better than this fuckin’ thing.” Katya teased, waving her hand up and down, eliciting another cackle from Trixie.

“And better than this Sistine Chapel get up.” Trixie mirrored Katya before placing her hand on her hip and tilting her head to the side in what Katya hoped to fucking god was expectation.

“My cabin, uh, has a balcony. Y’know, to jump off of.” She was fumbling her words but the way Trixie was looking at her emboldened her tenfold. “It’s a good height too. Deck ten…”

Trixie broke out into a proper grin. “Concierge?” She asked as she collected her purse and phone from the side.

“That obvious, huh?”

“I know the type. I’m sure you’ll surprise me, though.”

Katya decided to take that as a compliment. She told Trixie her stateroom number and, upon Trixie’s instruction, left before Trixie did. It didn’t help her anxiety, not knowing for certain if Trixie was following her or not, yet it added to the excitement and mystery of how exactly she would be spending the early hours of her morning, too.

She hurried around her cabin once she got inside, applying a top up of perfume, cleaning her teeth and removing her lipstick. She wasn’t stupid enough to deem herself presumptuous but doubt still broiled in her stomach, the longer she waited.

And then when Trixie knocked on her door, it hit her. All night she had been focussing on getting to Trixie, talking to her, flirting with her, that she hadn’t properly considered if she was ready to go through with the rest. Or if she actually could. She was only just getting her libido back, orgasming from the safety of her own hands (or toys). Having another person responsible for that…

Trixie knocked again.

Before Katya could overthink any further, she jogged to the door and opened it, putting on her best act of confidence. It had worked so far.

“Oh, you’re not the maid.” She sniffed.

Trixie rolled her eyes and pushed past her. She didn’t look around, no doubt having seen plenty of cabins during her contract, from the cheapest to the grandest suites, but sat down on Katya’s bed and faced out towards the glass doors to the balcony. “Seems a bit dark out there, and a bit too cold.”

“And you’ve forgotten your wetsuit.” Katya added, stepping closer to her, and tried to ignore the nausea forcing itself through her like a riptide.

“I wonder what we can do instead?” Trixie smouldered at her over her shoulder. Katya huffed a laugh, pulled on each of her fingers one by one, her breathing coming short and insistent. “Are you ok?”

Katya perched next to Trixie, heart hammering. “Before we…” She started, not knowing exactly where she was going to end up. “I, uh, I...wow, I’m—”

“Made speechless by my beauty, yeah, you’re not the first.” Trixie smiled, bumping her shoulder against Katya’s.

“Well, of course.” Katya bumped her back. “I just...I’ve not been very well, recently, and it’s, uh, affected me in, er, ways I hadn’t anticipated and, uh, you’re...I mean, I—”

“It’s ok, you can tell me.” Trixie’s voice was unexpectedly gentle.

Katya inhaled, so deep she almost choked. Almost. “I’m massively depressed and I haven’t slept with anyone in ages and I’ve just started being able to come again so of course I want to have sex with you but I’m also absolutely terrified that it won’t work for me and you’ll think you’ve done something wrong and I don’t want to burden you with all this either because, er, hello Mary, we’ve literally just met but I feel like I should give you a disclaimer so you don’t get a potentially rotten surprise and—”

Trixie cut her off, this time without actually interrupting, but by placing her hand on Katya’s cheek. The way Trixie was looking at her wasn’t with sympathy and Katya was thankful to be spared the shame, raising her own hand to meet Trixie’s, holding her wrist loosely to keep her there.

“Let’s just see, hey? If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Simple as that.” Trixie shrugged her shoulders as if it really was that easy. Katya could have argued back, could have talked Trixie out of being with her like she was that gullible, that unworthy. But she didn’t. She turned towards her, studied the brown of her eyes and the laughter lines by the side of her mouth and the set of her curls resting on her chest, unravelling after so many hours like a roll of parchment. “And besides, if you’ve made it this far with me, it’s very likely that you’re ready.”

Katya reached out to poke her finger through a ringlet and Trixie made a joke about her foreshadowing what would happen next. “I’d like to think that’ll not just be all…” Katya teased with an air of nonchalance she didn’t think she possessed anymore.

“No?” Trixie encouraged, stroking her thumb across Katya’s cheek, under her eye as if she was wiping away a tear. “What else do you have in mind?”

Katya edged closer, bringing her lips a hair’s breadth away from Trixie’s. She felt Trixie breathe out, saw her fight the urge to dive right in and spoil the build up. Katya admired her restraint, wished to reward her for it. “I want to eat you out first.” She grazed her nose against Trixie’s. Just once, enough to hopefully give Trixie an idea of where else she could be touched. “Then I’ll fuck you with my fingers, then however the mood sees fit.”

“Three times? Lucky me.” Trixie mumbled, running her fingers softly over the curves and edges of Katya’s face, the sharpness of her jaw, the slope of her bobbing throat, the rattle of her chest. “But what about you? You want me, you want this, so how’s about I show you what you’ve been missing?”

Katya swallowed, sweat breaking out at the back of her neck. It wasn’t uncomfortable, like the closeness of the air when the temperature got its hottest on deck, but it was unfamiliar enough to spike some adrenaline in her, leading her to recall how she used to feel in other women’s company, how she would luxuriate in the chemistry, the will-she-won’t-she.

Katya couldn’t find a suitable response that didn’t terrify her for saying it, so she slunk back into what she knew before, the muscle memory of a tell-all kiss. Pressing her lips against Trixie’s was scary but beautiful, like standing on the bow of a boat to admire the water countless feet below. Though all the tension she had imprisoned in her own body didn’t seep out instantaneously, she felt a slow trickle of self-assurance meet it, encroaching it to keep it at bay. A kiss wasn’t a remedy but, for Katya, it was part of her recovery, a way back to feeling something fucking good.

She pulled back, ever so slightly, only to then brush her lips against Trixie’s, a silent command to part them. She licked into her mouth, a cautious flick of her tongue for Trixie to do with as she pleased, and exhaled roughly through her nose, all squashed up against the side of Trixie’s, when she felt the first rumbling of arousal. It still seemed far off, brewing in the distance, but it was there, and her relief roused her further.

Katya ran her hands down Trixie’s neck to her shoulders, pushing her back to lie down. Trixie hummed in a pleased response, smiling against Katya’s lips. “Grandma’s still got it.” She teased.

Katya cackled, though managed to properly follow her down, climbing on top of her, her knees each side of Trixie’s thick thighs. The material of her dress dug in. She pulled it up to bunch at her hips as she kissed Trixie again, licking over her lips before sliding her tongue against hers.

Trixie brought her hands to rub up and down Katya’s bare skin, soothing and exciting simultaneously. Katya felt like she was in capable hands, that she had the protection as well as the ignition under Trixie’s care.

“Can I undress you?” She asked, voice deep and low in Trixie’s ear.

“You’re just saying that because you hate this outfit.” Trixie joked but nodded to ensure Katya got the message loud and clear.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen and must be gone immediately.”

They laughed as Katya began to unzip the front. Katya soon sobered when she caught sight of Trixie’s breasts, large and cupped in a delicate pink embroidered lace bra. The straps shimmered, almost, and Katya was enraptured, too intent on running her fingers over the patterns, over where the material met Trixie’s ribs, to keep pushing down the rest of Trixie’s jumpsuit. Trixie lifted her hips and rid herself of the thing and Katya bowed her head, burying her face in her ample cleavage and kissing her there, wherever she could manage. Trixie was warm and the glimpse of her Katya had gotten had made her ravenous, eager to see what else lay beneath her outfits and her performances and her makeup. Her lipstick had blurred from their kisses. Katya wanted to get it all over her.

Trixie unwrapped herself for Katya like a present, revealing her true shape, her hips, the matching, skimpy thong she had on. Katya raised a brow at what little it covered and Trixie made a quick excuse about not wanting her underwear to be visible on stage.

“I don’t think that’s why you’re wearing these.” Katya smirked as she sat back on her heels to survey her. Pink lace bloomed over what Katya desired to see most, the satiny string waistband sat low on Trixie’s hips and the tiny, hardware ring detail made an impression on the pouch of her stomach. Katya was sure her already-frazzled brain was going to short circuit. Imminently.

“This isn’t fair, I want to drool over you too.” Trixie pouted, thumbing the hem of Katya’s dress.

“You already have. You’ve seen me in my bikini but I’ve only fantasised about you in yours.” Katya hopped off of Trixie anyway, throwing her jumpsuit on the floor before pretending to kick it whilst it was down. Trixie screeched way too loudly and Katya fell on the bed next to her, wheezing and wriggling about like a beetle on its back.

Trixie playfully pushed her before seeming to get an idea halfway through. Before she could react, Katya found herself face down against the mattress with Trixie tugging open her dress, planting urgent kisses down her spine and only stopping when she couldn’t get any further. She somehow managed to get Katya out of it. Katya was glad Trixie couldn’t see her face, especially when she began to massage her shoulders, the bottom of her back, the more intimate places a masseuse couldn’t.

“This ok?” Trixie checked. All Katya could do was make an approximation of an affirmative sound and sink into the feeling of being caressed like someone who was real and alive enough to be.

Katya felt Trixie’s hair tickle her skin, drip down her like droplets of halcyon gold. Her fingers glided over the backs of her knees, her calves, made her feet jump and dance. “Feel good?”

“Very.” Katya sighed, aching for more but equally satisfied with the lightness Trixie was affording her. “I want to kiss you again. Come back up here.”

Katya turned onto her side, cupping Trixie’s face when she settled onto the pillow beside her. She kissed her with more fervour, without the worry of what could go wrong. It was hard to imagine any dolour at all anymore, in her world or the wider one, as she sucked and pulled on Trixie’s bottom lip. Kissing her felt so right, like she was at one with Trixie’s body, yes, but with her own too. She didn’t need to fight. She just needed to love, to harmonise, to discover that she had the capacity to do so. It wasn’t a matter of if.

She slid her fingers into Trixie’s hair, working her way through the hairspray and the bobby pins to muss up her perfection. Trixie moaned into another kiss as Katya rubbed lazy but persistent circles into her scalp, tugging here and there when she best saw fit - when Trixie whimpered or tried to nibble on Katya’s lip. Trixie attempted to pull Katya closer into her. Katya pinged her bra strap and smiled as she kissed the assaulted spot on Trixie’s skin, her yelp filling the cabin like the distinct scent of the sea.

Katya slotted her index finger underneath the same strap, watching Trixie’s face with undivided attention as she pushed it off her shoulder. She trailed her gaze down to her lips, spit slicked and swollen, her chin, her flushed chest, eyes wide in wonder as she pulled down her bra to reveal her breast. She kissed, open mouthed and hungry, from underneath Trixie’s jaw to her nipple, swirling her tongue around it before sucking, only lightly, just once, before pulling back and leaving a thin string of spit connecting her lips to her.

Katya unhooked Trixie’s bra, glad that she was giving her the space to explore in her own time. She didn’t want to rush, especially didn’t want to gloss over the details of Trixie’s body. She was gorgeous and, though it was hard for Katya to tell her so, she did. It was another means of pushing herself.

Trixie rolled onto her back, fully exposed. Katya got on top of her once more and worshipped her the way she knew how. It was all coming back to her. She kissed from one nipple to the other, sucking on them then biting Trixie’s underboob gently. She took a hold with both her hands, squeezing her flesh, and felt herself getting wet. Her delight must have shown through her expression as Trixie enquired what was up. Katya merely shook her head and kissed her like her life depended on it. Because it kind of did.

Katya kissed down Trixie’s stomach, dipping her tongue into her belly button to make her laugh, whilst smoothing her hand down Trixie’s thigh, sweeping closer and closer inwards.

“Oh my god.” Trixie exhaled, closing her eyes and tilting her head back into the pillow. “Please.” She gripped at Katya’s back, directing her where she wanted her. Katya spread Trixie’s legs wider, bending them, settling in between and wrapping her arms around her thighs to keep her in place. To get as deep as possible.

Katya licked one long, slow stripe up the material of the front of Trixie’s thong. She kissed the top of her waistband, each side of her cunt, before repeating her actions. Trixie raised her hips to meet her. Katya fixed her back down but, out of pure sympathy, pulled off her underwear, revealing all of her. She could see her arousal, smelled it too. She breathed her in, dragging her nose across her mound, through her trimmed pubic hair, back down to her inner thighs. Trixie whined and Katya beamed. She kissed her for the final time before relenting, diving in instead of overboard.

Trixie’s poise was suspended. Katya had always been good at sex. It was the feelings she wasn’t as handy with.

She lightly licked Trixie's clit (minimal effort, maximum tantalisation). She pressed her fingertips into Trixie’s skin, perhaps hard enough to leave a mark, as she went lower, wiggling her tongue between Trixie’s folds, tasting her fully by flattening it against her. She bobbed her head, applying pressure to as much of her as she could at once, and closed her eyes to immerse herself in her senses, overpowered by Trixie’s presence. So proximate, they were, that Katya almost felt like a stranger to herself. Swallowing down Trixie’s wetness, spreading it over her clit, her labia, was an act of affinity, one she had worried she had become averse to. She put all her energy towards Trixie, the both of them captivated by the other, so nothing else stood a chance. Trixie was everything to her, right then.

When Trixie began to roll her hips, working in tandem with Katya’s tongue, Katya slid her hands underneath Trixie’s body so they were on her lower back. She brought Trixie closer to her. She could properly bury her face, her tongue teasing at Trixie’s entrance, making her clench around an emptiness Katya had promised to fill later. Trixie’s stomach quivered and her moans, controlled though they were, got louder, more regular like they were the only outlet of breath Trixie had.

“I’m close.” She announced, clenching the sheets beneath her and pulling to ruin the perfect, tight tuck Katya’s cabin attendant had made.

Katya paused to regain her sensibilities, to kiss Trixie’s inner thighs and elicit a few half-hearted complaints from her about why she chose then to stop. “I’m an evil witch, out to deny you your most desperate needs.” She spoofed before immediately leaning over Trixie’s blushing face to kiss her, make her taste herself.

“Well, whatever you are,” Trixie leant back into the pillows, pushing Katya down at her shoulders, “You sure are good at giving head.”

Perhaps if she was feeling on form, she would have made a saucy comment, but she was too determined to prove to herself, not Trixie, that she still had her way, that Trixie was right and wasn’t just flattering her to heal her battered ego. She scooped Trixie up again, lowered her face and finished her off mercilessly. Katya watched Trixie bite her own forearm to stop herself from squealing and adored how she came with her teeth sunk into her skin.

Fuck.” Trixie whispered, eyes still closed, appearing serene and cherubic as if Katya hadn’t just slathered almost her entire face in her wetness. “Come kiss me, you filthy...fiend. God, I can’t even think.”

“Brain dead from head. It’s got a ring to it.” Katya crawled up Trixie’s body and hovered over her, enchanted in amazement at how she was waiting for Katya’s mouth all over again. Slow like honey, Katya traced the outline of her lips with her finger, smudging any remaining makeup. At first, Trixie let her explore, hardly moved save for a post-orgasmic twitch, but then their gaze met and any passivity evaporated like salt water on tanned skin. Trixie sucked on her finger, hollowing her full cheeks. She pulled off then guided two of Katya’s fingers back in, curling her tongue and slicking them right up to the knuckles.

“Get inside me and watch how good you make me feel and tell me to fuck you when you’re ready, ‘cause I can’t wait to touch you.” Trixie bit her lip as if she was conscious she had said too much.

Katya sat back on Trixie’s hips. She ran the fingers she hadn’t had in Trixie’s mouth through her hair, pushing it out of her face as best she could so Trixie could see what effect she had on her. She couldn’t formulate an adequate response. Instead, she reached around to unhook the clasp of her bra, letting it fall from her frame, the straps slipping down her arms. Trixie took it from her, reaching out to run her hands over her breasts, to thumb her nipples. Katya arched into her caresses, focussed on how good it felt to have her callused fingers trace unpredictable patterns upon her.

The tattoos which adorned her collar bones drew in Trixie’s attention next. She raised up to kiss them, then licked them. Katya gripped her hair, wrapping her other arm around her shoulder to keep her near. As Trixie sucked on her nipple, Katya felt her wetness drip out of her, let her head flop back like she was letting go of the last bit of hesitance within her. She revelled in the affection for a while until she couldn’t stop herself from pushing Trixie so she bounced atop the mattress. She got to all fours and shoved her fingers into Trixie’s mouth for good measure before bringing them to her cunt. She massaged her clit once, twice, three generous times before gliding lower and easing into her. Trixie was still so, so wet.

Scissoring her fingers, she kissed Trixie hungrily, sloppy as if she was relinquishing control. Trixie gasped into her mouth.

“So good,” Trixie preened, “More, more.”

Katya quickened her pace, crooking her fingers too. Trixie instantly reacted to the intensity, sighing with every thrust until she whimpered that she wanted to come again.

“Touch yourself.” Katya told her, bowing her head to watch as their hands bumped and fumbled and navigated together, bringing Trixie to completion once more.

Seeing Trixie unravel made her yearn to do the same. Katya carefully pulled out of Trixie and took off her underwear, revealing almost as much of herself as she had done before they had undressed. Trixie peered at her, suddenly all perky again with the anticipation of whatever would unfold next and motioned for her to rejoin her on her pillow.

Katya wriggled to get comfy, her whole body aflame. She squeezed her legs together, clenched her muscles and smiled, booping her nose against Trixie’s. “Hello young lady, I require a thorough, nasty fucking in the next two to four minutes. Would you be amenable and help a poor, old ghoul like me feel some semblance of joy again?”

Trixie cackled, throwing her head back and rolling away from Katya. She momentarily worried that she would topple off the bed but, laughing too, she dragged her back so their chests pressed together, their legs tangled.

“That’s probably the most, uh, interesting proposition I’ve had while I’ve been on board here.”

“You mean to say the oldies doing all the ballroom dancing don’t fawn over you too?”

Trixie rolled her eyes. “Oh my god, shut up, I do not want to be thinking about them right now.”

Katya grinned, gave her a deep, searing kiss. “What do you want to be thinking about?”

Trixie kissed her in return, grazing her lips against hers as she murmured, “How good you taste.”

Katya gulped. “Lie back then.”

She clambered up and on top of Trixie, knees cushioned by the pillow beneath her head. She was careful not to trap any of Trixie’s hair, or at least accidentally tug too hard on it as she shifted her weight so she could lean her hips forward, right over Trixie’s face. Such a position had always been the one to make her come the fastest, the hardest. She had very little doubt any more that she wouldn’t have a fantastic fucking orgasm with Trixie’s tongue against her.

“All good?” She checked, glancing down though unable to see much of Trixie’s expression.

“Sit on my face right now. I’m going to make you see stars.”

Katya braced herself with her hands flat on the wall, fingers spread and cheek pressed against the cool surface. She sank down onto Trixie and felt the lap of her tongue on her right away, eager and expert, exploring her carefully but with clear intention. She imagined what Trixie looked like right then, whether her face was glistening with her wetness just yet, whether she was sweating as much as Katya was. When she brought her hands to clutch at Katya’s ass, Katya moaned, encouraged her to go for it, whatever ‘it’ was. The unknown had been intimidating. Now it was intoxicating.

Trixie brought Katya even closer to her, urging her to rock her hips, use any part of her she needed to.

With her last remaining thought before she submitted herself to feeling, Katya asked, “So how do I taste?”

Trixie choked on a moan and flattened her tongue against her, taking long and slow, savouring licks before resuming her frantic efforts. Katya rubbed herself over Trixie’s face, the curve of her chin, her hips bucking back and forth until the heat in her stomach and the tension in her thighs and the sheer bliss of being given such a gift (god she loved it, she loved it and it was a gift to have Trixie ensure she was having the ride of her fucking life) overtook her, shook her like she had been asleep and needed to wake the fuck up. She rode out her orgasm until Trixie had taken all she could and there wasn’t enough air left in the cabin to contain their joint elation.

Katya hit her forehead against the wall, laughing deliriously. She had managed to remain quiet otherwise but the urge to bang her fists and shout at the top of her voice rose from her core, the places inside her she had formerly wanted to silence, eradicate.

Trixie stroked her thighs, her ass, an intrusion not unwelcome. Katya rested her cheek against her hand, bringing her other down to join Trixie’s, grasping her fingers. They didn’t align or slot together but the contact was as perfect as it could have been. The thought sent another shiver through her and she had to mash her mouth against skin and bone to prevent an inhuman, guttural sob escape. Trixie sat up to tenderly kiss her stomach, over the faded, now-invisible bruises she had inflicted on her forearms, her chest, wherever her despair had sought out in the past.

She slumped in Trixie’s lap and hid her face in her neck. Trixie held her until she told her she had to pee and that she thought it was a little too early in their dalliance to be peeing on each other so she “better move quick”.

“Damn it, that’s what I was going to suggest we do next.”

She eased off Trixie as she giggled, all high pitched and wired. They discussed whether they thought they had made enough noise to wake whoever was sharing the wall on the side of Katya’s bed, coming up with scenarios of couples listening in intently then fucking, having been turned on by what they had heard.

“Maybe that was my best loved performance yet, my Dolly and Lana covers don’t compare.” Trixie mused as she wandered back from the bathroom. Katya had settled against the mattress and took Trixie in. She stole a makeup wipe and got right up to the mirror to scrub at the stubborn lipstick that was left. Her top lip was stained slightly. Katya kissed that very spot when she got into bed beside her, cupping her face, not holding her in place but showing her that she was welcome.

It was awkward, having to explain that her mom called on her early in the morning but Trixie reassured her that if they set an alarm, she would be sneaky, “Full mission impossible kinda shit.”

They got each other off once more, making out the whole time and panting beneath the covers, getting themselves sticky and sweaty and gross, and it was incredible. Katya, more than anything, was proud of herself - for coming (what an achievement) but, more importantly, for inviting Trixie to stay.

She fell asleep with the covers kicked off and Trixie’s hair all knotted under her chin. And with complete satisfaction.

Chapter Text

Shoving Trixie in the bathroom and hoping for the best wasn’t the most calming start to her day but Katya did what she had to do.

She stumbled down the corridor with her parents, tying her laces as she went, and tried not to drop her sea pass card and water bottle. She was flustered and nervous in a way she hadn’t been since she lived at home but there was a blossoming commotion inside her too, one which woke her up before her alarm to beam like a crazy person (again, if the shoe fit…) and study Trixie as she slept.

She was tired but, instead of the awful exhaustion that made it seem as if she was lugging her own corpse around whilst she had to go about her day, that morning she was aching with leftover pleasure.

When Katya’s phone had buzzed, Trixie had groaned and pressed her face into the pillow, grumbling for five more minutes.

“No can do, sweet cheeks,” Katya had patted her bare butt for emphasis, “Unless you want to come along and have my gym bunny mother whoop your ass on the treadmill.”

Trixie had flipped over to lie half on top of Katya and complained again. “Can’t you just whoop my ass instead. It jiggles a lot.” Her voice was deep and groggy with sleep and Katya got an overwhelming amount of images in her head of just what Trixie’s ass would look like if she did bend her over and…

“Oh my god, get up, get up now before I lose all my self-control.” She ordered, only half joking as she gave in, just once, to squeeze Trixie’s cheek and bite her neck playfully.

“You think you have self-control?” Trixie quipped but she must have sensed the slight panic in her tone, however, for she did roll off Katya to let her stand and have a quick shower to get rid of the evidence of their activities during the night.

The gym was perfectly empty. Katya and her parents stretched and warmed up and discussed how lovely their Christmas Day had been.

“Did you stay up much later after we turned in?” Her dad asked. Katya merely shrugged and told him not really. She smiled at her reflection in the mirrors, satisfied with her feigned composure and accepted his offer of helping her with some weighted squats. She kept checking the pathetic protrusion of her butt, if only to distract herself from the thoughts of Trixie’s much more ample figure and ideas of what they could end up doing together next.

She joined her mom on the rowing machines and overlooked St John’s Port as she huffed and puffed her way through her workout. The sky was a blue so bright it seemed artificial. Katya and her mom passed remarks about the other ship that had anchored next to theirs, its sides and hull painted with tasteless patterns, and went through their itinerary for the day.

After a hearty breakfast and another shower (she reasoned she was just making up for the several instances in which she had not washed for multiple days on end back home, when she felt guilty over the extra amount of water she used), Katya joined her parents in the theatre to wait for their number to be called. Embarrassingly, they had to wear little stickers showing which tour group they belonged to, and Katya would have been more mortified as they shuffled onto a coach with their names ticked off on a spreadsheet were she not preoccupied with intermittent flashbacks of her fingers inside Trixie, her pussy right in her face, the feel of her cheek crushed against the wall to the next cabin - the succession of erotic fantasies played out from recollection, as clear as the water lapping at the pier leading to Heritage Quay.

The coach whisked them down roads framed by green hills and beach views to a catamaran awaiting them on the shoreline of Dickenson Bay Beach. They got aboard, legs and shorts wet from wading into the shimmering waters, and dumped all their belongings on the side. The boat had a glass bottom with seats framing the view of the seabed. Katya and her mom followed her dad as he chose where he thought best to sit and they observed their surroundings whilst waiting for their guide to begin.

Katya leant over the side of the boat, arms sticky against the ledge from her sunblock. Her sunglasses slipped down the bridge of her nose and she peered over them to get a true picture of how white the sand was, how the rows upon rows of loungers awaited tourists to fill them up. It was still early and not yet hot, a pleasant warmth soothing her back and the wrinkles on her forehead from where she was squinting in the sunshine.

The boat took them out to where the water turned navy, deep and cold and full of unknown treasures. The guide explained what kind of marine life inhabited the area and told them to watch out for specific fish amongst the coral reefs. They were taken to the right of where they started, beyond the desertedness of Bush Bay, towards Blue Waters Beach. Other small boats spread out up to the horizon but their catamaran, nonetheless, seemed to Katya like the only one around.

It was hypnotic, viewing the kinds of creatures she usually paid no thought towards, too occupied with herself. The smaller fish flitted between the yellows and blues of the larger ones, flashes of silver amongst rocks and dancing, twirled seaweed. Her mom took photos as her dad asked the guide questions, not giving the other passengers much opportunity for their own. Katya was more than content to remain silent, reflective.

After returning to shore, the group were led back on the coach and headed south of the island to English Harbour. Parking up by Galleon Beach, they were booked in for a snorkelling session in the hope of spotting the turtles that the beach was so well known for. Katya didn’t think she had the capacity to get excited over fucking turtles but, once she had donned her goggles and snorkel and got in the water, she found herself searching for them and screeching in delight into her mouthpiece when she caught sight of a couple darting about in the water.

They spent another hour or so at the beach before being driven back to the cruise port. Ever the Catholics, Katya’s parents decided to visit Saint John’s Cathedral and Katya, ever the goth, agreed to come along, wandering the graveyard in the early afternoon heat and admiring the baroque-style cupola-topped towers and wooden interior of the building. They exited through the iron gates, two white statues of saints either side on concrete pillars, and Katya gazed up at them like they really were guarding all who visited.

By the time they got back on board, Katya was starving. They headed straight up to catch the last of the lunch buffet then spent the rest of the afternoon resting on deck. Katya fell asleep as soon as her head hit the backrest of her sunbed and only woke up when it was time to go get ready for dinner.

She had been glad of an activity-filled day to keep her mind from thinking about Trixie excessively (she knew better than to believe there was never too much of a good thing) and so, upon returning to her cabin and spotting a note for her left folded on her vanity, her stomach swooped. Trixie had laid the pen on top and had written Katya’s name in big, neat letters.

“Touched myself in your bed after you left. I finish at 12:30 tonight and would very much like to get fucked. Got any toys with you? T.”

She had never intended to wear it but, with such a proposition in her hands, Katya planned her entire look around her gold vibrator necklace. She wanted to give Trixie a glimpse of what she had, quick and taunting, and needed her clothing to be able to hide it to unassuming eyes, otherwise.

The ship had set sail at four and was travelling at a steady pace by the time Katya towelled her hair dry on her balcony. She had alerted the concierge, asking for an iced coffee as, despite her nap, she didn’t know for sure if she would have been able to stay properly awake until Trixie was ready for her, and she drank it watching the sky turn golden, then orange, into a dusky pink.

All throughout dinner she was jittery, kept fidgeting in her seat and playing with the beading detail of her semi-sheer dress, the bump underneath the material where her vibrator lay cool against her thumping chest. She played it off to her parents as the effects of ordering a coffee so late in the day but only she understood it was unbridled excitation, the prelude to arousal.

Whilst they attended the show, Katya explored parts of the ship she hadn’t ventured to before - the library, a few of the other bars and the solarium. She pranced by the indoor pool, no one around to witness her ‘twerking’ (she really did have too much pent up sexual frustration by that point) and did a few circuits of the promenade deck, pausing to watch the waves for a while, happy to be alone because she wasn’t going to be later.

Katya was positively ecstatic when she rejoined her parents at the ice bar, even more so when they said they were going to have one more drink then head to bed.

“Sorry, we’re just really feeling it tonight.” Her mom apologised and Katya tried not to appear as pleased as she was.

“I’d be the same if I hadn’t had that coffee.” She nodded in false sympathy.

She headed up to the sky lounge just as Trixie took to the stage with her band. That evening, she had on a black and white polka dot dress, skin tight so her breasts stretched the material. Katya ordered a glass of champagne and bit her lip, coming to her usual place on the edge of the dance floor.

“Good evening, everyone.” Trixie introduced herself and her band. “Tonight we’ll be playing you all things eighties, so here’s some Whitney Houston to start you off. Let’s fill the floor! One, two, one two three four!”

I Wanna Dance With Somebody was one of those classics Katya couldn’t stand but, when Trixie motioned for her to get moving, she couldn’t deny her and began stepping side to side and shaking her hips. She made a show of rolling her eyes when Trixie sent her an approving wink but made sure to be extra silly whenever Trixie looked her way during the rest of the first part of her set.

Trixie took a short break after an hour or so and Katya immediately went over to her, offering her a drink.

“You know I get them for free, right?” She said but accepted one anyway, asking the waiter for a vodka soda. “Where are your folks? They didn’t sniff my presence out did they? And now they won’t come anywhere near the whore who ate their precious daughter’s pussy.”

“Oh m—” Katya couldn’t even finish her sentence for laughing, the huskiness and force of it folding her in half.

“They’ll see me tomorrow and I’ll have a target on my head. Your dad’ll pull a full bow and arrow out from behind his back and your mom’ll beat him to it and just shoot me dead, right on stage.”

“You are so right.”

Katya, in her amusement, didn’t realise how close they were standing until Trixie’s arm brushed against hers as she ran her fingers through her styled hair.

“So you got my note?” She smirked, the crinkles by her eyes deepening, made more obvious by the application of her thick foundation. Her winged eyeliner was framed by buffed out purple and her lips were a warm toned nude. Katya tried not to stare but didn’t think herself very successful with that (half hearted) endeavour.

“I surely did.” Katya took a long sip of her drink before deciding what to do next. “That question you asked?” She paused for Trixie to catch what she was referring to, caught her eye and held her gaze as she yanked down her high neckline, reached under it and pulled the chain of her necklace up and out. The long, gold bullet lay in full view between her breasts, though she had her back to the majority of the room.

Trixie’s mouth fell agape. It was momentary but Katya knew, then, that she had caught her off guard.

“Does this answer it?”

Trixie swallowed and nodded. Katya played with the chain, running her fingers over it a couple of times, before popping it all back beneath her dress.

“Trix, time.” One of her bandmates called to her.

“Leave as soon as I’m done, yeah? I’ll be right behind you.”

“Can’t wait.” Katya mumbled, suddenly all too aware of being surrounded by other people. Trixie, very subtly, squeezed her forearm before trotting off to pick up her guitar.

When Katya got back to her cabin, she went about the same ablutions as the night previously and, with a little time to pause, placed her hand above her heart to feel how furiously it beat, even more so than before. She wondered why - she had been absolutely terrified of admitting to Trixie that things might go tits up (no pun intended) and now, after a day to simmer down her general agitation and shock at how well things went, she was freer to focus on possibilities, without a real, prominent fear of failure. She lifted the necklace out from under her clothes and checked herself over in the mirror. Her eyes were a bit too wide and her face was becoming florid in colour but it didn’t matter.

Trixie knocked on her door and she was ready.

“Sorry, wrong room. I was looking for the lady with the parrot and the glass eye.” Trixie greeted her with a shit eating grin. Katya pulled her in, grabbing her by the forearm and reminding her that, for all she knew, that could still be her.

Trixie wasted no time. Once she had checked that Katya was alright and still up for what they had overtly suggested, she lifted her dress up and over her head, threw it to the side and threw herself into the middle of Katya’s bed. Katya watched her toe her heels off then beckon her over.

Please get naked, like, right now. I want to see you in just that necklace and nothing else.”

Katya might have resisted, played harder to get, were she in a different position, another time of life. She rolled her eyes, instead, taking her dress off and sauntering over to crawl on top of Trixie, letting the bullet dangle between them. Trixie reached up to hold it, to run her fingertip over its head. She raised her brow and asked how many times Katya had used the vibrator on herself so far.

Katya didn’t give her an answer. She slid her hand down Trixie’s front, straight into her underwear, resting her fingers against her clit and circling once, twice, before retreating. Trixie was about to object but Katya, all too astute, shoved her cute, black briefs down her legs and left them around her knees, preventing her from spreading her legs much wider. Katya kept her bra on for the time being but took her own off.

“You’re so hot, oh my god.” Trixie groaned as if it wasn’t fair. Katya supposed it wasn’t - all the damage she did to herself and for it to never show. She cut off her own train of thought abruptly, coming to sit on top of Trixie’s mound so she could roll her hips and feel the press of her cunt against Trixie’s pubic bone. Trixie stared at her in wonder.

Katya smirked and played with the gold bullet absentmindedly as she took Trixie in. “I thought we could see if this could work on the both of us at the same time…”

Trixie exhaled. It sounded like a gentle beg in Katya’s ears, a tidal pull even the strongest could not resist. Trixie tugged on the chain so Katya jolted forward and she brought their lips to meet, a harsh kiss of tongue and teeth and desperation. Katya sank into it, enticed further by Trixie’s caresses up and down her side. Her touch was beyond seductive. Katya had already given herself over, one way or another. And so, when Trixie brought her hand around to cup Katya’s breast, roll her nipple between two fingers, she became fully captive to Trixie’s affections, her adoring compliments, both verbal and physical.

Tipping her head back, Katya closed her eyes, felt Trixie take the vibrator from her, though she couldn’t quite get it over her neck. She helped her along, guiding her hand and, together, they placed it so it rested against Trixie’s clit. Katya turned it on, listened to Trixie moan as she kept her head bent low to ensure they had it in the optimal position before shifting her hips, spreading her knees wider and coming to sit so the bullet was fixed in place between her and Trixie. Even through the silk of her underwear, the sensation was a hundred times more intense than when she had used it alone.

Trixie tried to tilt her hips up. She couldn’t move and the fact that she was restrained by Katya, even as tamely as she was, aroused Katya to no end. Katya began to pulse ever so slightly so as not to move out of the perfect arrangement they had got themselves in, but enough for her to be able to moan in time with Trixie. Katya reached behind her, dipped her fingers into her to see the effect she was having and wasn’t at all disappointed when she discovered just how slick she was.

“Fuck.” Trixie breathed, clearly trapped between what felt so good already and how badly she wanted more. “I—” Katya suddenly got up off of her, changed the vibration setting to constant mode, focussed the bullet on Trixie’s clit and swiftly pushed two fingers inside her. “Fuck.” Trixie called out and flung her arm in front of her eyes, body quivering, stomach tensing as Katya quickened her pace. Katya didn’t once look away from Trixie’s face, so intent on making her blush and sweat and strain even more.

Katya could tell when she was about to come but it was a glorious surprise nevertheless, to witness Trixie writhe and smother her own gasps of pleasure and grab onto Katya wherever she could like she was the only thing she was aware of in that moment.

“Jesus fucking— Katya, come here.”

She was bundled into an all encompassing kiss, Trixie’s arms heavy around her shoulders. Trixie flipped them, movements clumsy as she was still restricted by her underwear around her thighs and her eyes were glazed over like she had taken an almighty hit, and Katya laughed as Trixie patted the bedsheets to find where the vibrator had got to.

“Do you want it inside?” Trixie asked, head angled to the side, enticing and tempting like a true seductress as she finally got to take off Katya’s briefs.

“No, it’s better against my clit. Come on, kiss me again.”

Trixie did as she was told and, once she put the vibrator back in place, gliding it down between Katya’s labia and applying pressure to intensify the sensation against her clit, she sucked on her bottom lip until she opened her mouth, wide and hungry for her. Their kisses amounted to panting and choked cries of gratification and, though it took a while longer than Katya would have liked, her orgasm shook her in one drawn out, crashing wave.

Katya heard buzzing even when Trixie had turned the bullet off, accompanied by the thudding of her heart beat that rose right to her temples. She caught her breath, caught Trixie’s face in her hands and peppered it with kisses, the gentler kind she didn’t quite realise she was favouring her with until Trixie laughed and hummed in delight.

Trixie took her bra off and came to rest her head a little below Katya’s on the pillow. Katya nuzzled into her hair and smiled as Trixie kissed her collar bone, the smell of her filtering through the hairspray, the artificial additions.

They lay in silence until they decided, at exactly the same time, to pee and laughed as they jokingly raced to the bathroom to see who's ass landed on the toilet seat first. Katya, of course, won. “My mom dragging me to the gym every morning is clearly paying off.” She called through to the bedroom where Trixie had pretended to stomp off to in a huff.

Katya offered Trixie half of her pillow chocolate later and they ate, sitting cross legged opposite each other on Katya’s bed, naked and grinning goofily.

“What’s it like living on a cruise ship?” Katya asked once she had thrown the wrapper towards the bin and misaimed spectacularly, much to Trixie’s mirth.

Trixie bowed her head, took Katya’s hand in her own and linked them. “I love it, actually. A lot of people, I guess, might judge me for, y’know, being away from friends and everything for such a big chunk of the year. And then, of course, during the holidays, but...I get to sing, see beautiful places, beautiful women.” She nudged Katya and winked over dramatically, to which Katya just motioned vomiting. “And there’s nothing - believe me, nothing - better than being high as fuck off edibles, watching the Northern Lights from the crew hot tub at four in the morning.”

Katya huffed a laugh, smiled at the thought. “You’re a bit of a pothead, aren’t you?”

Trixie rolled her eyes. “I’m not like ‘uhhh four twenty blaze it, bro’,” She impersonated the stereotype, peace sign and all, “But it sure enhances some experiences, let’s say.”

There was something about her, all mussed up and tangled in Katya’s bed covers, that endeared Trixie to her more than previously, that made her ache for her again so soon. Katya practically pounced on her, kissing her in random spots. “This doesn’t need enhancing, right?” She smirked before she spread Trixie’s legs and licked her pussy over and over and over until neither of them could breathe.

“No enhancing whatsoever.” Trixie practically purred later, holding onto Katya’s hair as she rested on her stomach.

Katya’s eyelids drooped and she didn’t notice that she was dozing off until Trixie shook her and told her to get under the sheets with her. “Mmm, gotta cover up this heinous body.” She mumbled, dragging herself up to lay her head on the same pillow as Trixie’s, facing her this time. She was all blurry, being so close in the dark. Katya sighed contentedly as Trixie stroked her face, her dry lips, kissed the end of her nose. Katya, even in her sleepy state, edged nearer so Trixie could kiss her properly, commandeering it. Katya let her do as she desired, unmoving and allowing Trixie to take charge, cup her jaw and whisper sweet nothings to her. It was tender, more careful and delicate than she had anticipated and she might have panicked were she not halfway unconscious.

She fell asleep to Trixie’s voice, singing to her like a lullaby, promising her that the sun will shine bright and clear. It might have been meaningless, and was a commitment Katya didn’t anticipate her keeping alone, as well as one she never asked for. But, if Trixie meant it, Katya wasn’t going to refuse another week of her company and certainly wasn’t going to let her music fall on deaf ears.

Chapter Text

With a jolt, Katya woke to her alarm, to Trixie’s arm slung over her side and her petulant frown as she blinked to clear her vision. The morning light peeked through the gaps in her curtains and tried to ease her into daybreak. It was a struggle to be awake after having barely been asleep. Katya reached behind her to get her phone and squinted at the screen, too bright for her tired eyes.

“I’m really starting to feel like An Old now.” She said, voice all husky and sticky in her throat.

“A few late nights and you’re a dead woman walking?” Trixie teased. She hurriedly assured her that they didn’t need to meet later if she wasn’t feeling up to it, however. Katya caught a quaver of uncertainty.

She couldn’t help but wonder if Trixie had regretted her choice of phrase too, but perhaps that was just her overthinking, being conscious of herself as a depressed anxiety whore (same old story, no need to wear it out). “I’ll survive. Your bomb pussy will rejuvenate me in no time.”

“Why don’t you let me— I was gonna say look after you tonight but that just sounds patronising and not at all sexy in the way I’m imagining it.”

They laughed, Trixie at herself and Katya at how easily she could do so. “And I’d say tell me more but I need to get up, not get wet.”

“Honey, you should always be wet, but I mean by, like, releasing a little bit of pee—”

“Pee!” Katya exclaimed, comedically concurrent.

They rolled about together in hysterics, kicking their legs and shaking each other's arms in the air like a strange kind of congratulations on being on the same wavelength. It woke Katya up and she managed to get ready and out the door before her mom came knocking. “Save yourself for tonight.” Katya instructed before leaving. “Don’t flick your bean in my bed, ok?”

She spent her workout with her family wondering if Trixie abided by her rule or not.

Breakfast was rather rushed as the three of them had to be ready to join their tour group in the theatre. Katya, dressed in her Nikes and black denim shorts and slathered in sunblock, oohed and ahhed at her dad’s explanations of what was likely in store for them whilst they headed downstairs to Deck 2 and got scanned out for the morning.

It was blinding outside and the waves below jumped up excitedly at Katya’s ankles as she walked carefully down the gangway onto the concrete port side. With their stickers in place on their chests, they were pointed towards their assigned coach and Katya hauled herself into a seat, placing her bag down on the next one so nobody else could sidle up beside her.

As they were driven to their first stop, Katya reflected on Trixie’s proposition earlier, on what it would be like to have her ‘take care’ of her. She appreciated that Trixie had been conscious of how she came across and, being so uncertain of what best to do herself, Katya didn’t know if they needed to have another conversation before they kept up their arrangement or not. She could be bit of a ruthless fucker, getting what she wanted and terminating things when she was satisfied it had all run its course, but being ill and paddling into the first streams of proper recovery, made it unfathomably more difficult for her to navigate relationships, both personal as in Trixie’s case and professional.

She tried not to think about her narrower profit margins as the year went on - she had promoted more and more of her existing team to senior roles until all the responsibilities she really had were approvals and signing updates off. It didn’t pain her to pay her trusted employees more (especially not Fena, who she really would have been lost without) but it was still a hit to her ego, to have gone from her most successful period as a CEO to feeling like the most ridiculous imposter in the world.

Failure was a curse. One misjudged decision had led to a couple more and an onslaught of upset customers who didn’t hold back on giving their feedback and scathing Google reviews. They were all well deserved but nonetheless absolutely soul destroying. The business as she had envisioned running it and the friends and the life she had built for herself crumbled like her resolve until she was left with dust in her hands, staring into nothing, becoming nothing too.

Dead or alive, she had thought a billion times over, it didn’t matter. She was too much of an inconsequence to be befitted personhood. So why should she have been so fucking burdened anyway?

Before she went too deep into the dark, she reminded herself of the beauty before her, the privilege of seeing it in its many forms, of nature and nurtured places. And, as they pulled up to Hunte’s Gardens and saw the hand painted signposts and homemade wicker chairs at the entrance, the pathways deeper into the pockets of exotic rainforest and the hidden statues amongst the flora, she thought of Trixie.

She thought of the care given to keep beautiful things alive and thriving, and smiled as she anticipated her evening.

Their group was greeted by chilled lemonade and the owner of the gardens, who explained what kinds of plants, flowers, trees and landscaping techniques were to be found in the depths there. He took everyone around like he hadn’t been asked but was happy to regardless.

As the day began to heat up, the shade from the overhanging palms above the winding clearings was a nice relief. Katya studied the lush greenery and bold colours of curated perennials without the barrier of her sunglasses, experiencing her surroundings as they were. Her head was clear of thoughts beyond what was before her and she bent to inspect particularly interesting looking flower heads every now and then, falling behind the rest of the group then jogging to catch them up, ready to be presented with some new wonder.

They were brought to a run down building, which looked like an extended, iron roofed shed. It’s bare stone walls were chipped and completely knocked down in certain places, revealing another section, a kind-of dining room. Plants posed in tall vases, gold-framed portraits and mirrors and trinkets filled the space alongside homemade wooden cabinets, and a fringed lamp, decorated with silver coins, stood overseeing a table complete with place settings and candelabras. Hanging from the ceiling was an iron chandelier, though it seemed more like an old bird cage than anything else. Katya took pictures, more than she had during the whole trip, drawn in by the contrast of precise decorative decisions and overall dereliction.

Even when everyone else moved on, Katya remained, finding comfort in herself in such a place, seeking out a minutiae of recognition. She saw herself in the cracks, in the pieces of rubble, but also in the ornate statues and the fine china. She swirled around, scurrying from one corner to another and muttering to herself as she went. When she eventually hurried out to find her parents, she wondered if Trixie had been to Hunte’s Gardens, if she had seen her own duality like Katya had, or if she had just noted the beauty, the sunny side of life there.

Katya had the sudden, urgent need to find out just what Trixie had seen and experienced, and how. She wanted to listen to more than her music, her moans and perhaps, after all, that night was the time for it, was how she could be taken care of.

She sat outside, face up to the sun, whilst her parents perused the gift shop at the end of their tour. They showed off what they’d bought for various relatives and Katya responded with the expected enthusiasm, thoughts of Trixie still more prominent. They ambled back to the coach and, this time, Katya forced herself to join in her parents’ conversation about the gardens and what they enjoyed the most.

Their next stop was Harrison’s Cave, an underground limestone cavern of stalagmites and stalactites. To get to the bottom, there was an elevator shaft and tram system and Katya immersed herself in the depths of the streams and pools and rock formations. Coming up to the surface again was a shock to the system but it made Katya laugh, nonetheless, at how happy she was to see the sun after being deprived of it.

It was early afternoon when they got back to the ship and Katya was not one bit embarrassed to have fallen asleep along with all the other old folk on the journey back. She scoffed her buffet lunch and debated with her dad about what flavour ice cream was best out of the selection they had chosen, scooped into different coloured bowls. Her mom sat ignoring them, more than content with her salted caramel, and downed a couple of glasses of wine. Katya huffed a laugh at her and reminded her of how glad she had apparently been that Katya was with them.

“It’s not you I’m fed up with.” She half-joked.

“To whom are you referring, then?” Her dad played up his disgruntled reaction and Katya cackled until they left Oceanview Cafe and went down to their cabins to get changed for some sunbathing on deck.

Katya rushed into hers, eager to see if Trixie had left a note for her like the day before. She wasn’t disappointed when she didn’t find anything but it would have been amusing, if nothing else, she told herself.

“Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Katya sang to her reflection in the mirror as she took her shorts and underwear off in one downward swoop, inspecting herself and noticing where her pubic hair was starting to grow in again so soon after her wax. “My pussy good, pussy sweet, pussy good enough to eat. Tight pussy, right pussy, fuck me all night pussy.” She rapped (well, as much as a pasty white person like her could), putting on her bikini and shaking her ass about like she actually had one.

She napped on her sun lounger and her parents had to wake her, yet again, to inform her it was time to get ready.

“You should be full of energy at your age!” Her dad criticised. “You can’t be that tired just from walking around?”

“Leave her be, she’ll have been worn out before she got here.” Her mom responded before she could. “It’s her vacation just as much as ours and if she needs to sleep, she needs to sleep.”

Katya would have bristled a bit more at her father’s assumption that she didn’t need rest or that depression wasn’t fucking exhausting did it not afford her the affront of that being the reason she was so sleepy. Fucking Trixie into the early hours was still her dirty little secret and she certainly wanted to keep it so.

Back in her stateroom, Katya forewent washing or styling her hair, shoving it up messily and pulling a few pieces out here and there to appear artfully dishevelled. She selected black dress pants and a red, white and black patterned shirt with an exaggerated collar, topping it all off with a coordinating blazer. She looked like such a fucking dyke. “Militant dyke.” She corrected herself, pointing at the centre of her face in the mirror, and finished getting ready with a careless smoky eye.

All throughout dinner, she was talkative and energised and involved in her family’s discussions, channeling her attention into the present to keep her from wondering about later that evening. Her parents waved her off after dessert and she read at the bar in the atrium, which had a table and comfy chair free. She was just getting into where she had left off, sipping her non-alcoholic cocktail without taking her eyes away from the page, when a familiar figure in uniform bounced up and down on the spot in front of her.

“Hi, gorg.” Jan chirped, dimples in her highlighted cheeks on full display.

“Hi.” She replied, hesitantly for fear of engaging her a bit too much.

“You don’t need to look so scared! I just wanted to let you know that there’ll be a big seventies themed disco here tomorrow night at nine and it would be great to see you there!”

Katya tried not to be obvious with how relieved she was. “Sure, I’ll let my family know too.”

Jan beamed, satisfied. “That’s fantastic! There’ll be dancing and special cocktails so they won’t want to miss it.”

Katya nodded. “Cool.” As she was about to cut their interaction off, eye contact severed, a thought bloomed. It might not have been wise and she feared it could have caused some trouble, but she followed through anyway. “Hey, Jan. Trixie and her band - does she, er, do they have a night off or anything?”

If there was a twinkle of understanding in Jan’s eye, Katya pretended not to see it, held her breath and looked right at her as if she had just asked a totally innocent, inconsequential question.

“Kind of. Tomorrow they are just playing the dinner time slot in the atrium ‘cause of the disco, y’know.” She folded her arms, a smirk pulling the edge of her mouth upwards. “Why do you ask?”

“No reason.” She lied, no doubt horrendously unsuccessfully.

“Don’t sweat, doll.” Jan winked and wished her a wonderful night.

Katya put her book face down and contemplated the possibilities, finishing off the rest of her drink in two big gulps. When her parents rejoined her to head up to the sky lounge, a million different scenarios had given her way too much to think about and the anticipation that was building inside her upon seeing Trixie after her set amounted to new heights.

She was sweating as they arrived, the music loud and upbeat, groups of people laughing and dancing. It was now a familiar sight to Katya, one of joy and lightness. It made her appreciate being away from her lonely apartment, how she had barricaded herself in and away from others.

Katya couldn’t name the song Trixie was singing but the words and the melody escaped her anyway as she first took her in, swaying her hips and arms to her band’s accompaniment. Her lips were her statement pink, glossy and eye catching, and Katya recalled how they felt against her own, how they kissed her, moved against her cunt as Trixie ate her out. Katya jumped when her dad asked what drink she wanted and she stuttered out her response, ordering extra ice.

Trixie caught her eye as soon as she sat down. She positioned herself to face her, crossed her legs and resisted the impulse to jiggle her foot. For as much as she was nervous, she was determined not to let it show. Trixie had been incredible with her so far but Katya knew all too well that that was because she had been on top form and hadn’t displayed any obvious signs of her condition. Of course, she was an expert in hiding it as best as she could, and she would have loathed to have unloaded her very worst on Trixie. She felt better than she had in what seemed like a million years but part of her still worried that something would set her off and Trixie would be faced with it.

She straightened her posture, smiled at Trixie as she introduced her next song then was pulled into a debate about her cousin’s choice to send her son to private school. Every now and then, she glanced up at Trixie when she could, when her parents were sifting through the pros and cons with each other and were too intent on being heard (being right, in her father’s case) than focussing on where Katya’s attention really lay.

Katya imagined standing before her, running her hands up the sides of her legs, underneath the hem of her skirt and up, up, up, exposing her underwear, or her lack thereof. Katya squirmed in her seat, recollecting how perfect Trixie’s pussy looked, how pink her labia appeared against the paleness of her skin where she had stark tan lines. She squeezed her legs together as she thought about how she tasted, the fact that she knew such an intimate detail about her and all the people around her had no idea was driving her wilder, turning her on. She gripped her glass, tried to reply to what her parents were rabbiting on about but she doubted she was fooling even them by then.

She suffered through the rest of Trixie’s show with her parents stubbornly staying up, dancing together every now and again and ordering drink after drink. Katya’s agitation made her itch and she had to feign needing the bathroom a couple of times to splash her face with water, to breathe and tame her anxiety that somehow made her arousal even more overpowering.

When Trixie finished her last song, her parents were on the dance floor, twirling and laughing together. Katya’s nausea reared up, tailgating an uncertainty of what to do whilst they were still around. When Trixie spotted her, she motioned over to her parents with her thumb, wide eyed and panicky. Trixie just laughed, raising both her hands to tell Katya she would be ten minutes. It gave Katya time to let her parents know she was turning in and to freshen up in her cabin.

She applied more deodorant alongside perfume and fanned herself with her hands, then with a magazine she found.

Katya let Trixie in as soon as she knocked and let her sweep her off her feet. Trixie spun her and pressed her up against the closed door, encouraging her with a cheeky smile to wrap her legs around her waist.

“Where were you hiding all that strength?” Katya gasped in wonder as she slung her arms over Trixie’s shoulders.

Trixie brought her lips mere inches away from Katya’s, determination emanating from her. “All dykes are strong in different ways, you know this.” She chastised. Katya wasn’t given a chance to laugh, Trixie’s mouth on hers, devouring her. Katya leant back and closed her eyes, slid her tongue against Trixie’s and curled it. Trixie kissed her deeply and, though Katya felt her arms shake, kept her in one spot, held her there like she knew what she needed right then better than Katya did.

She slid from Trixie’s grasp eventually, bare soles landing softly on the floor. She huffed a laugh into Trixie’s neck as Trixie chatted away in her ear about how concerned she had seemed, how annoyed that her parents had dared to remain with her. “You don’t have to worry, I’m always just as desperate to see you. Alone.”

“I am a vision, yes.” Katya said, stamping quick kisses to Trixie’s cheeks, a few pecks on the lips for good measure.

“A sight for sore eyes, more like.” Trixie jested and Katya chased her to the bed, slapping her ass in mock irritation.

Trixie pulled her down with her and they crashed into each other like coexistent waves, kicking off the bedsheets and knocking into each other at different points where their wandering limbs were insistent and impatient. Katya resisted her natural inclinations to take charge, to lead like she did when dancing, to control like she had the innate power to, however much it had been buried. Instead, she eased into Trixie’s touch and kissed her, feeling her own features smooth out as Trixie traced her edges with delicate fingers and gentle praise.

“I’m going to let you ‘take care’ of me like you wanted.” She exhaled, before she chickened out. “Just— if I cry, and I’m warning you I might, it’s not because you’re hurting me. Quite the opposite, ok?”

Trixie stared at her, long enough for unease to wreak havoc throughout her entire body, for her palm to become clammy atop Trixie’s side and her pulse to pound in her head at an alarming rate. Then, Trixie smiled. “You’re a freak.” She kissed her once then seemed to reevaluate and came back for another. “I’ll stop if you tell me to but relax. Lie back and let me do my thing, you fool. You deserve it. And, besides, it’s really not that deep.”

Katya nodded, stole another kiss before she rested her head against the pillow. Flopping her arms out to the side, she announced, “Right, do your worst, whore.”

“Whore? Whore? Where’s my fee, then?” Trixie squawked, straddling Katya’s hips. She didn’t wait for Katya’s response, pulling her shirt off to reveal her bra, the same pink one Katya had adored previously. It was just as arresting to see her breasts framed by luscious lace the second time around and Katya stilled completely, then, watching Trixie gaze down at her, swiping her hair back behind her shoulders.

Trixie dipped her head, nosing up behind Katya’s ear and encouraging her to turn to make space for her. “I’m priceless.” She whispered. Katya shivered, Trixie’s breath tickling her neck. Katya wrapped her arm around Trixie’s shoulders, pulling her in further. Trixie nuzzled her cheek, trailed kisses to her lips. Katya parted hers but was left bereft. Trixie sat up again and stood. She took off her bra, unzipped her skirt and stepped out of her underwear. Katya was left breathless, scrunching her fists against the mattress, desperate to touch but conscious of her promise.

Trixie climbed back on top of her and took her hands in her own, pacifying her so she unclenched. She brought them to her breasts, watching her as she began to squeeze and explore. She was clever, Katya thought, knowing just how to loosen her up, how to lead her into following.

“You make me so horny.” Trixie confessed, pushing her hands down to rest on her waist. Katya made a pathetic noise at the back of her throat so Trixie knew she was listening and very much affected by what she was saying. “That first time I saw you, I thought all my fantasies had come true. Hot older woman, so mysterious and intense and watching me like, I dunno, like I was someone. And then you were gone in the blink of an eye and it drove me crazy, wondering if I’d catch a glimpse of you again.”

“You got more than a glimpse, remember.”

Trixie rolled her eyes but grinned and kickstarted into action. She pushed Katya’s blazer off and gripped the front of her shirt to pull her up, throwing the jacket aside and bringing her hands around to cup Katya’s breasts through two lots of material.

“Your tits are phenomenal.” She praised. Katya tucked her chin into her chest to watch Trixie unbutton her shirt, slowly but with stark intention. “I want to suck on your nipples until you tug on my hair to stop because it’s just that intense.”

Katya let out a shaky breath. “Yes.”

Trixie peeled away her shirt, though got it caught as she didn’t realise she needed to unbutton it at the wrists. Trixie’s quiet, abashed chuckles relieved Katya of the tension that had built between them. She stroked through Trixie’s hair once she finally got rid of the rest of her clothing.

Trixie traced her fingers over the bristly hairs near her bikini line, bent her head to kiss over them and move slowly upwards, to where she had promised to fixate. She stroked down the centre of Katya’s chest, leaving a trail of placidity in her wake. Katya closed her eyes and leant back and moaned when Trixie’s lips found their way to her nipple.

Trixie dipped her hands underneath Katya’s upper back, bringing her forwards just a touch, and Katya arched in tandem as Trixie began to suck harder. “More.” She ordered, sensitive to such treatment but equally as keen for something beyond.

Trixie didn’t delay, grazing her teeth every now and then, making Katya twitch, keen for her tongue between her legs as she’d had it before, for Trixie to do exactly what she had in mind. Katya felt her excitement brew under Trixie’s weight and raised her hand to hold her in place, to spur her on.

Trixie switched to her other nipple and the brief relief it gave Katya when her lips left her for just a second caused her to tense and curl her toes. Trixie swirled her tongue, sucked with unrelenting determination until Katya called out, “You’re gonna be bald in a minute.”

Trixie smirked against her skin, the fucker, but relented, popping off and shimmying further down Katya’s body. Katya tugged on her hair anyway, increasing her force until Trixie yelped and buried her heated face, evidently liking it a bit too much. Katya didn’t want to derail her so she returned to gentler grips, telling her to keep going, reassuring her that she was ok - more than ok.

Trixie nodded, dragging her nose up and down the bottom of Katya’s stomach until she crawled right back and spread Katya’s legs.

“I can’t wait to put my mouth on you.” Trixie looked up at her through her lashes, sultry and seductive, her ass sticking out and her bent knees wide apart to accommodate her tits. She dove forwards to kiss up Katya’s inner thigh. “You really are the sexiest woman I’ve seen on here, y’know.”

“Bet that’s what you tell all your conquests.” Katya managed to bite out, too intent on stopping herself from clamping Trixie’s head between her legs and getting her to work to really poke fun.

“Oh no, you caught me out.”

Katya huffed a laugh, promptly cut short when Trixie kissed over her clit, laving her tongue slowly over it like she was savouring her first taste. Katya tightened her grip in Trixie’s hair once more and roughly exhaled when Trixie started to wiggle her tongue between her folds, to where she was wettest. She reached right down, beyond her entrance, covering all of her, until she brought her face back to Katya’s mound and nibbled playfully on her stomach.

“I could spend hours just tasting you here and there,” She murmured against Katya’s skin, distracting herself from what she was saying with an errant kiss, “But I could just as easily bury my face in your pussy and finish you off in no time and cherish every fuckin’ second. What would you prefer?”

Katya covered her face with her hands. “Oh my god, get on with it.”

“You sure?” Katya felt her lick tauntingly at her hip bone, a reminder more than a suggestion but one so unnecessary either way. “You don’t want to draw this out and have me deprive myself of what I really want? Because you know I’m dying to eat you out, so badly. But I would control myself if it meant I could treat you to absolute worship. You deserve my very best.”

“Trixie, I swear to god—”

She cackled, actually fucking cackled, as she pounced up to steal a quick kiss in thanks for playing along, before repositioning herself and, indeed, burying her face, eating her out like she was ravishing her but so precisely so not one part of her was bereft of her tongue, her expert ministrations.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Katya flung her head right back, unable to watch Trixie anymore as the sight was too overpowering, too unbelievable, yet so real that she had no room to question.

Her orgasm was long, built up to a crashing explosion of heat at the top of her thighs and a tightness in her lower abdomen and a guttural moan which she had to stuff back inside her with her fist, teeth marks decorating the top of her hand in memoriam. She caught her breath, capturing Trixie’s hands in her own to bring her up, so she could kiss her and taste herself on her tongue.

Katya sucked on Trixie’s bottom lip, licked over it like Trixie had licked her cunt. Katya thought her absolutely devious and she wished she could have articulated it so she didn’t cheapen what they were sharing and exploring together. Instead, she let Trixie flip her over, kiss down her spine and shower her in affection.

She felt Trixie rock into her, imagined what it would be like to have her inside her. It should have seemed like a big imposition but how they connected was a blessing, natural and easy and comfortable.

Katya sighed as Trixie kissed the tattoos between her shoulder blades, the ones that were a little uneven and scrawled and probably in need of retouching. She was waiting for her to ask about their significance but the questions never came. She gently scratched down to her hip, lay her hand over her ass cheek and patted it.

“So bony.” She commented and Katya could hear the smile in her voice.

“Maybe my new year’s resolution should be to grow my ass.”

Trixie leant over her so her nipples and the soft, heavy roundness of her breasts pressed against her skin, dragged as she slid herself upwards to rest some of her weight on her back. “My late Christmas present to you could be a donation of some of my fat. Wow, this dirty talk is unparalleled, eh?”

“So hot. My vagina is flooded.”

Trixie snickered into Katya’s ear. “I do have that effect on women.”

“Again, it’s pee though. You walk past and their bladders just, just explode. Piss everywhere, the cleaners are overworked from mopping it up—”

“I cause yet another natural disaster at sea.”

“Unnatural disaster - that should be your band’s name.”

They carried on in the same vein for a while, sharing the strange sense of humour they had cultivated. Katya could only liken it to her friendship with Fena, her constant and the one person she could depend on for her crassness as well as her actual reliability. How peculiar it was, she thought, to actually want to laugh again, entertain someone else. Trixie wordlessly decided she was due another orgasm right then, thankfully before Katya’s mind got up and out of her body to wander around and distract her, and so she let herself be turned over, sucked on Trixie’s fingers and welcomed her, crossing her ankles around her back to pull her in further when she slipped her index in first.

Penetration tensed her up for as much as she sometimes desired it, put her on edge before her muscles relaxed, before she mellowed altogether. Trixie must have cottoned on for she kissed her so sagaciously, deep and dirty, slowly caressing her walls and not stretching her until she was ready. It took time, Trixie’s kisses and her quiet admissions of amazement helping her through the initial barrier, to get to the other side where she began to feel good - glorious, in fact.

“Mmm.” She moaned as Trixie reached a particular spot. “Go down on me too. I can’t believe how—” She cut herself off, not thinking it appropriate to gush over her rediscovered ability to climax with another person. Mood killer 101 and frankly not necessary for someone she only met a few days previously to hear, no matter how well they gelled.

Trixie, too occupied with bringing her lips around Katya’s clit and flicking her tongue up and down it, then from side to side, was none the wiser. She slipped her middle finger inside her too and rubbed synchronously. Katya shook, breaths becoming laboured, and bit back a scream when her orgasm rippled through her.

After Trixie got off on top with three of Katya’s fingers stuffed inside her, they burrowed under the sheets and Trixie smoothed through her hair, ran her fingers lightly over her face, tracing her features. Katya’s eyelids fluttered with every touch. “That was pretty fuckin’ hot.” She said. Really, she wished she could have thanked Trixie.

“It was. Thanks for trusting me to, y’know…”

Katya opened her eyes, saw Trixie hide her face, display a kind of shyness unfathomable of such a bountiful, bounding personality. She kissed her forehead and left the conversation hanging in the air like a bird gliding above the sea.

They dozed, wrapped up together for a while, until they needed to pee and clean up. Katya couldn’t get back to sleep after that and Trixie, no doubt too aware of Katya’s manic stare even in the dark, stayed awake with her, telling her about life on board.

“My contract ends next month but, to tell you the truth, I don’t want it to. I really could just live on here. Like, I don’t even have a proper apartment or anything. I stay with my friend Kim when I’m signed off and obviously I pay for shit and reimburse her for storing all my things in her spare room but...I dunno. It suits me more being like - what’s the word? Er, untethered.”

“Must be freeing, not having responsibilities in the same way most people do.”

“Yeah, definitely.” Trixie rolled closer into her, slinging her leg over Katya’s and nuzzling her neck. “It can get lonely though.” Katya barely heard her, even in the silence of their early morning seclusion. She nodded, hoping Trixie would feel it, would be attuned to her empathy.

Her words caught behind her tongue. She had to try and get them out again and again until, finally, her throat gave way and honesty conquered. “Sometimes it’s like loneliness is all I know. But I haven’t felt that here, or with you.”

“Are we actually being sincere human beings right now?”

“I think so. Ugh!”

They sniggered together, Katya rubbing her feet up and down Trixie’s shin in a roundabout way of comforting her.

“Enough of that, then. We’re better going back to piss and shit.”

Katya wheezed. “So tell me, Trixie, when did you last shit yourself?”

The sun began to rise by the time they had divulged their grossest stories. Swapping tales of having diarrhoea and food poisoning and suspect ingrown hairs around the pubic area was a million times easier to engage in than confessing to wanting companionship and struggling to find it even in the busiest of places (in Trixie’s case) or amongst people who love like it is limitless (in Katya’s).

Before she forgot and dropped off, Katya exclaimed, “Oh! Oh! Tomorrow! Or, today, I guess.” Her outburst clearly shocked Trixie and she slapped at Katya’s thigh, cursing her for supposedly giving her a heart attack.

“You know I’m from Wisconsin, I’m due to be four hundred pounds with a bum knee in no time so don’t tempt fate. What about tomorrow, today, whatever?”

Katya told her about asking Jan about her schedule. “I was wondering if you’d like to spend some quality time in my lair or, maybe, if we’re feeling super adventurous, on my balcony?”

Trixie pretended to really consider it, umming and ahhing until Katya bit her shoulder to get an affirmative answer from her.

“Can’t wait to get my pussy out in the sea breeze. What are you going to tell your parents?”

“Not that, that’s for sure.”

They joked about a little longer until they both drooped, sharing the same pillow and cuddling into each other. Katya took a deep breath in, kissed Trixie goodnight and fell asleep, holding her close.

Chapter Text

Her alarm was painful. The most painful one so far. When she turned it off and double checked the clock - as if her screen was lying to her in a bout of cruelty - she groaned. She had been asleep for a total of one hour and forty seven minutes.

“Why did we think talking all night was a good idea? I should have just knocked you out after we fucked.” Trixie grumbled, grabbing her pillow, turning it sideways and cuddling it like it was a person. Katya would have felt hard done by were she not already feeling so by her own stupid fucking obligation to her mother. Dear god, she wanted to cry.

She was on the verge of proclaiming how she had never been more tired in her entire life but stopped herself because that absolutely was not the case. She had experienced too many mornings, having had a full ten hours sleep, which had often resulted in the same extent of exhaustion, though it was a very different kind.

It was one of the aspects of depression which she didn’t anticipate. The crying, the unbearable weight of sadness constantly on her shoulders, the complete loss of enthusiasm for everything and everyone - yes, that’s what she (unwillingly but with full awareness) signed up for. Feeling like she needed to sleep another ten hours to become even remotely functional was not.

It made sense, of course, when she thought about it. Her body had been expending so much energy resisting her mind telling her to give up that it was no wonder she was worn out. Whilst she was struggling to keep her eyes open as she read emails or proposals and yawned through presentations she couldn’t even remember giving, she was sleeping more than she ever had. And when she had made the mistake of telling someone so, they couldn’t believe her, even going so far as to accuse her of pretending to be fatigued to get out of social engagements.

Trixie, noticing she wasn’t responding, turned to her and cupped her face. “Your mom will understand if you say you’re not up to it. She’s only making you go to keep you active, right?” Katya nodded, though there was undoubtedly an element of her hoping to boost her serotonin levels too. “Then there’s no need to be afraid of disappointing her.”

“My mind just— like, sometimes things seem like a big deal to me and normal people would be like, what’s she bothering about? It’s silly.”

Trixie sat up and feigned looking around the room. “Can’t find a normal person in these quarters, ma’am, the coast is clear.”

Katya came to sitting too, wrapped her arms around Trixie’s middle and kissed her shoulder. She moved her hair away and kissed the side of her neck, behind her ear. She smelled like pleasant, languid mornings, and the last whiff of sweet perfume.

“Listen, why don’t you go and freshen up and get ready and you might end up feeling alright anyway.” Trixie suggested. “Brush your teeth at least, you rotted cunt.” She added with a cheeky smile. She turned to kiss her square on the mouth as if to prove she didn’t actually care if she was a disgusting bog witch from hell, which, Katya thought with an affectionate pinch to her hip, they had established earlier anyway.

Katya washed away the nausea and the sleep from her eyes, and returned to find Trixie dressed again, collecting the rest of her things.

“I better go.” She said, showing Katya the time on her phone. They had five minutes before Katya’s mom was due to knock on her door. Katya stole several more kisses until Trixie tore herself away and told her not to fret. “ I’m looking forward to later.”

They hurriedly agreed to meet outside Katya’s cabin at nine and then Trixie was gone.

-

Katya was incredibly relieved when her mom reminded her at breakfast that all they were set to do that day was travel to Reduit Beach and perhaps do a bit of snorkelling. She had taken it very gently in the gym and her mom had worried about her not feeling so well. Their agenda had been planned weeks before their trip, before Katya even confirmed that she was to accompany them, and so she told her parents how glad she was that a relaxing day coincided with her being a bit off and ignored their concerned glances when she didn’t eat much of her food.

They got off the ship once all the trips had departed and Katya’s dad bartered with a taxi driver until he was happy with a price for their journey further north of the island to Rodney Bay. There were a lot more clouds dotting the sky that morning and, though it was warm, Katya didn’t feel closed in by the temperature, a breeze stroking carefully through her hair, through the wound down window at her side.

St. Lucia was luscious and green, hills peeping up out of the horizon to greet all who passed them. The bay itself was rather spectacular, glimpses of the water so blue and sparkling, teasing at its full potential, until the car brought them down to an avenue parallel to the beach front. There, there were seafront restaurants and hotel resorts and stalls set up selling souvenirs. Katya got out of the taxi and looked up and down the road, rolling her shoulders and shaking out her legs. The three of them thanked the driver and headed down to the shore.

Katya’s dad spent far too long searching for a suitable set of sun beds under a giant straw parasol, the beach lined with them, but, finally, they dumped their things, set out their towels and Katya, calmer than she had been all day, lay down and promptly fell asleep.

She woke to her parents having what they would call a disagreement but what she, and the rest of the fucking beach, would call a row.

“We can’t just sit by and watch her sleep all day and think that’s alright.” She heard her father bemoan.

“And what else do you suggest? She’s eating, mostly, and she’s exercising and exploring and —”

“And she can hear you, y’know.”

Her mom jumped, swivelling to face where Katya was shuffling to sit up.

“Sorry, darling, we thought you were still…”

Katya sighed. “I know, it’s alright. You’re just looking out for me.”

Katya’s dad sat up too. “We’re just concerned. We thought this vacation was helping and we want to do what’s best for you but if it’s too much or if you’re not feeling well, you need to tell us. Don’t bottle things up like you have been doing.”

A wave of guilt washed over her. Here were her parents, fretting over her wellbeing, whilst she was tiring herself out in ways they could never imagine (and, hopefully, never would - Jesus Christ).

“Well, I feel like a right ass.” She huffed a laugh, dipped her head and took a long, cleansing inhale, an expunging exhale. She had to let them know, so they were spared the unnecessary handwringing. “I’m not all pooped like this because I’m getting bad again. I’m good actually, surprisingly good because, uh, I, uh...There’s someone I’ve gotten to know and...”

“Yes?” Her mom prompted when she struggled to phrase the situation correctly.

“Trixie, that’s her name.” She began.

“The singer?” Her dad asked, suddenly looking far too happy with himself. “Didn’t I say, Pat? Didn’t I say?”

Her mom huffed, hit his arm and told him to shut up for a moment. “So, what, you’ve..?”

“Been seeing her after her shows and, uh, yeah, not, uh, getting much sleep.” Katya cleared her throat, tried her best not to beam like she was announcing her fucking nuptials. She didn’t want them to jump to conclusions about what this meant for her but it was relieving, not to have to lie to them anymore.

“Oh. That’s...nice.” Her dad said.

Katya cracked up and didn’t stop until he bribed her with a cocktail straight out of a coconut.

“I don’t know where it’s going, before you ask, we’ve not talked about it and I don’t wanna jinx anything so I’ll just say this: she’s hot as fuck, she makes me laugh and we just, uh, connect, y’know. Intellectually and sexually, which never fuckin’ happens.” She explained when she and her mom were alone. Some conversations were best suited for women only. “Anyway, I’ve asked her to spend some time with me tonight while the disco’s on so, uh, I guess this is my way of telling you you’ll have to put up with dad and his terrible dancing on your own.”

Her mom placed her hand on her knee. “If I wasn’t so pleased - I know, I know - then I’d be cursing you to no end for abandoning me like that. But, no, go have fun with Trixie. She seems a real character.”

The rest of day sped by with a new energy within her. She snorkelled with her dad, chasing different fish on the sea bed and choking on salt water when she laughed too hard into her mouthpiece at whatever bad joke he was trying to sign to her under the surface. She walked up and down the sands with her mom, chatting about everything and nothing, and bumped hips with her now and then when she could tell she was dying to ask more about Trixie. When Katya paddled in the water alone, she smiled, biting her lip as she thought of Trixie and her uneven teeth and her garish dress sense and how she had once peed all down the front of the toilet because her costume was in the way and then had to perform with piss stained tights on.

She thought over what they were brave enough to admit to each other during their early hour conversation, fleeting though those admissions were amongst everything else.

She was sleepy again once the three of them travelled back to the ship in another bartered-for taxi. She went straight to her stateroom after a late snack lunch and slept until her alarm told her she had to get ready for dinner. The ship set sail at six and she watched the island swim by her open balcony doors whilst she fixed her earrings in and did her makeup. The swing and to-and-fro of her emotions that day had taken its toll on her but the excitement of spending longer with Trixie that evening urged her on.

She was able to eat a full three courses at dinner and enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne. If she kept checking her phone for the time, her parents were kind enough not to tell her off about it and even kinder not to poke fun at her. They made their way to the show, kissing her goodbye and wishing her a wonderful night with Trixie. Katya swallowed down the lump in her throat as both of her parents gave her hand an extra squeeze before they parted.

It was bang on nine when Katya got back to her room. She rushed to clean her teeth and complete her usual little rituals to prepare for Trixie’s arrival. A couple of minutes went by in which she tried not to panic but her heart fucking leapt out of her rib cage when the knock she had been waiting for came.

She had heard Trixie singing from the ice bar before she and her parents had gone into the restaurant for dinner, but she hadn’t managed to get a proper look at her until then. She stood in the hallway, heels in her hand, her hip cocked out, a tight pink dress hugging her figure and a smirk on her gorgeous - criminally gorgeous - face.

“I’m dying to pee and take my makeup off.” She said as Katya tugged on her arm to bring her inside. She brought her to the bathroom right away and got out her makeup wipes, shushing Trixie when she criticised her for using them instead of proper remover.

“Would you, mom?” Katya angled her head back, widened her eyes and jutted her jaw out, handing Trixie a wipe to clean her face with too.

“I genuinely don’t know how you can go from looking like a nineties supermodel one minute to an old pervert witch the next.”

“It’s the duality of woman, baby, you better get into it!”

“Oh, I plan to later.” She quipped and they giggled together until both of their faces were bare and shiny and pink. “Have you got a t-shirt or something I can borrow ‘cause as much as I like being all dolled up, I am so ready to let it all hang out.”

“Sure.” Katya rummaged in her suitcase to find one which was baggy enough. It was a fake band tee she had bought in Berlin many years previously, complete with skulls and metal-style font. She held it up in front of Trixie’s chest. “Hmm, I guess your pornstar breasts will just about fit in here.”

Trixie snatched it out of her hands but said thank you anyway. She took off her finery and unhooked her bra, letting it fall off her, and rubbed her shoulder. Katya undressed too, shoving on a hoodie but keeping her legs bare. They turned to look at each other at the same time and burst out laughing for no apparent reason.

“Our true forms.” Trixie smiled.

“More than you know.”

Katya called for the concierge to bring them chai lattes and, because Trixie hadn’t had dinner, a selection of vegetarian canapés and fries. They brought the spread out onto the balcony. Trixie tied her hair up as the breeze kept sweeping it in her face, and tucked in like she hadn’t eaten all day.

“I fucking love food, ok? We’re lucky to get a similar kind of spread to the guests.” She explained, mouth filled with a mini caprese sandwich. “It’s a buffet though, which is fine by me. My ass raised so poor that we had an outhouse is just grateful to have all this, plus a crew gym and, like I told you, a hot tub and a little sunbathing area too. Sweet deal really but sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in with performance times and meetings and stuff.”

Katya stole a fry, then another. “What do you do for WiFi, video calls - that kinda thing?”

“We can pay for the ship’s WiFi, which is overpriced as fuck and not always reliable but it’s easiest, and then there are loads of cafes around the ports where a lot of the crew sit in to get their internet. You’ll have probably recognised, like, waiters you see at breakfast out there once they get their break after their first shift.”

Katya hadn’t, always too preoccupied with sticking by her tour group or taking in new scenery beyond the harbour, but she nodded anyway.

“I use the ship’s WiFi to FaceTime Kim when I get chance. She’s usually either cooking or doing her makeup when I call and it’s the closest thing to being back with her, y’know? Like, a slice of normal life. I’m lucky to get on with a lot of the entertainment team here and I’ve ended up making friends with other crew members during other contracts and we keep in touch, so…”

Katya flicked her gaze from the inky, black sea, lit only by the crescent moon hanging gracefully above it, to Trixie, her cheeks round from where she was chewing.

“What about hooking up? Apart from when you happen across a prize beauty like me.” She wiggled her eyebrows, leant closer to her over the armrest of her lounger.

Trixie raised her leg, poked Katya’s shin with her toe. “Prize idiot.” Katya wheezed, finished the last of her latte and waited for Trixie to dish the dirt.

“It’s easier when I’m sailing Europe or when we’re anchored in Florida for a few days. Tinder works wonders then but, obviously, not so effective in other places where being gay is so demonised.”

“Of course. I can definitely picture you picking up some Swedish horndogs.”

Trixie put on an accent that Katya was almost a hundred percent sure wasn’t, in fact, Swedish. “Swedish people, we come the once, the tweece, the three times and then we say, ok, I’m—” She couldn’t finish her own sentence for laughing.

“What?!” Katya screeched. “What?!” She kicked her legs out in front of her, the sound of the lounger rocking against the wooden floor of the balcony overridden by her hysterics.

“I don’t know where that came from. A Swedish person, like, inhabited my body. I was just… Shelby’s puppet.”

“Shelby isn’t a Swedish name, oh my god, Trixie.”

They cackled to themselves until they decided to go back inside, order hot chocolate and a mini dessert selection, and cuddled up in Katya’s bed whilst they waited for it all to arrive.

“Thank you, Ernesto.” Katya said once the concierge had brought a tray into her room and set it down on the coffee table. She asked him about his day and if he was able to have a few chocolates from the housekeeping trolley, remembering how he had told her they always caught his eye as he went past. When he told her no, she pressed the one on her pillow into his hand, waved off his protestation and wished him a goodnight.

She closed the door behind him and caught Trixie wearing an expression she couldn’t quite place.

Katya put the tray in the centre of her bed and got in beside her. She picked up a cup for Trixie and handed it to her with the handle awaiting her grip. The porcelain was hot against her fingers.

“You’re very kind.”

Katya was glad it was Trixie holding the drink by that point. She would have fumbled, spilled it, otherwise. She furrowed her brow.

“Where did that come from?”

“Just watching you now.” Trixie took a sip, averted her eyes. “The amount of guests I see who don’t even take notice of a crew member’s name tags or, huh, anything about them. These people leave their families for most of the year to provide for them and stupid rich white people don’t have the decency to treat them like human beings.”

“I don’t see it as kindness. It’s just basic respect - decency, yeah. Nothing to be praised for.”

Trixie lowered her cup, wrapped both of her hands around it in her lap. “No, I know. It’s just sadly refreshing to see from someone - no offence - so well off.”

Katya understood and handed Trixie the majority of the tiny cakes and pastries that had turned up. Katya ate a couple whole, as well, but then felt too tight around the middle, like the skin of her stomach wasn’t able to stretch enough to accommodate her bloating. She flopped back on her pillow, deliberately made it look as if she had a double chin and exclaimed how she was dying from over feeding.

“What do you and your folks do?” Trixie asked after putting the empty tray out into the hallway for collection. She settled in at Katya’s side, facing her and stroking her stomach like she was encouraging her digestion to work faster for her.

Katya focussed on a small gap in one of Trixie’s meticulously shaped eyebrows. “My parents are retired now, though my dad was a high school teacher and my mom did a whole load of different stuff. Investing and shit. I have my own business, she helped me get it started, uh, let’s see, five, nearly six years ago now.”

“What sort of business is it? Drug cartel? Selling taxidermied cockatoos?”

“A specialised hotel and telephone service that provides gentleman with the company of a young lady for a short while.” Trixie rolled her eyes and laughed and bugged her to tell her for real. “No, I— it’s like a curated fashion subscription box...thing.”

Trixie told her that she had a clear eye for fashion, a distinct style and it made sense, just from looking at her, that she did something in that area. “Though I doubt anyone’s signing up for those boxes thinking ‘ah, yes, I want to look like a vampire ghoul from hell.’”

Katya pretended to be offended. “Who wouldn’t want that for themselves?”

“Anyone with an ounce of self respect.” She fired back and Katya cackled for what, she supposed, was the thousandth time in Trixie’s company.

They ended up napping for a while, Katya too full to move and Trixie still recovering from their lack of sleep the night before. It was close to one when they blinked awake again, Katya nosing at Trixie’s face and Trixie humming in contentment as they came round.

Katya pushed her fingers into Trixie’s hair. It was still tied up but loosely so after she had slept. She massaged the crown of her head, her nape, then brought her in to kiss her. It was tender and hesitant at first, Trixie treating her gently like she wasn’t sure of her intention. She seemed, however, in her sleepy haze, to remember that she was allowed to determine where to take things between them and so she parted her lips and ran her tongue along the seam of Katya’s. Katya sucked on it and deepened the kiss, winding a wave of blonde between her fingers and tugging.

Trixie surged up and got on top of her, not once breaking their connection. She pushed her hand up Katya’s hoodie and fondled her breast. Katya scratched Trixie’s thigh, her nails teasing up and down, getting closer to where the barrier of her underwear began. Trixie edged forwards into her touch, then rocked her hips casually, like an afterthought, too intent on pushing Katya’s hoodie up to expose her naked chest. Katya watched her grind against her and wanted more of it, telling her so.

“Take everything off.” She instructed.

“You too then.” Katya obliged her and lay back, rapt by Trixie beginning to ride her thigh, tweak her own nipple and tip her head back, giving Katya the full show. Without her asking, Trixie trailed her hand between Katya’s spread legs and massaged her cunt in time with the thrust of her hips.

They came within seconds of each other, Trixie tumbling into Katya’s open arms. They panted into one another’s mouths, not quite kissing until the need for it overrode anything else and they crashed together, squashing noses and wetting fevered skin.

Katya stretched, cracked her lower back. Trixie made a comment about her snapping in half and Katya retorted with a boning innuendo and, before they knew it, it was three in the morning and they were droopy eyed, still talking about whatever their twisted minds came up with. Trixie made her get up and turn the bathroom light on so they could both clean their teeth and pee and Katya looked back at the reflection of them in the mirror, amazed to see a change in her face shape, her cheeks less hollow, more uplifted. Trixie gave her a minty kiss and Katya slapped her ass as she led the way back to bed, almost forgetting to bring the room back to darkness.

Katya spooned Trixie, hugged her tight, and told her her plans for the following day. She felt Trixie drift off in her arms and smiled against the baby curls at the bottom of her nape. It was with pure awe that she thought over their evening together, how there was truly no dull moment between them.

She didn’t fall asleep straight away, feeling it too ungrateful not to bask in her however-temporary state of bliss. She wanted to cherish the lightness in her chest, the press of another body against hers and the regard for her own that didn’t result in damage, but care instead. She wasn’t naive enough to believe all was well but she was regaining the strength to believe she could achieve wellness in the long run.

Trixie snuffled and unconsciously tugged on Katya’s hand and Katya, with a new sense of balance, tugged back. Her breathing evened out again and Katya found herself swaying to the pattern of it, and the accompanying roll of the waves way, way beneath their bed.

Chapter Text

Katya opened her balcony doors to the greeting of daybreak. Below her lay the long, concrete pier, pointing out from the portside into the ocean. She leant over her railing to watch crates of food products be loaded onto the ship, men in blue overalls hauling packages up the crew gangway and, if she turned to look forward, engineers on suspended platforms painting the side of the vessel where the white of it was no longer pristine.

Beyond the harbour stood Fort George, high up on a plentiful hill, overlooking the rest of the town. Katya and her parents were due to visit it later that morning but, even when faced with its facade, all golden in the burgeoning sun, she couldn’t think much further beyond her final moments with Trixie before they went their separate ways.

As if she summoned her by thoughts alone, Trixie stepped out, bare feet thudding on the floor.

“You have a heavy gait, don’t you?” Katya teased and turned to where Trixie came to stand close beside her, looking out onto the same horizon.

“That’s an interesting way of telling me I’m so beautiful, slender and slight that you’re made to feel inferior in my company, unhhh.”

“You’re right, Trixie, you are arresting.”

“I’m gonna arrest you for crimes against fashion and hygiene in a minute.”

“Hi, Gene.” Katya waved at her.

At breakfast, after a much more enthusiastic gym session on Katya’s part, her parents asked her how her ‘date’ with Trixie went. The word unsettled Katya but she humoured them nonetheless, telling them the more appropriate details and how lovely their concierge was. Her parents hadn’t actually used the extra service they had paid for yet and Katya made fun of them, told them they were missing out on Ernesto’s shared love of chocolate. It was an avoidance tactic of any deeper probing but it worked all the same.

They didn’t have a tour booked that day and so they leisurely made their way off the ship in search of the statue of Christ of the Deep, a famous local symbol and reminder of lives lost in a ship explosion in 1961. The view from the Carenage was more impressive than the statue itself, tiny boats floating sleepily on the water and pastel coloured houses spread out upon the hillside in a non-distinct pattern, their windows glinting in the intensifying sunlight. Katya squinted, even whilst wearing her sunglasses, and followed her parents along as they bickered about the best way to get to Fort George.

When they got up there, the view was worth the tiresome debates Katya had had to endure. She spent time looking out over the fort’s boundaries to where the ship was anchored, and the opposite side, further inland, where nutmeg and other spices like cloves and cinnamon were cultivated for exportation. She moved to the signage, explaining how the town was originally colonised by the French and the Fort, when the British took over, was renamed in lieu of the patron saint of England. She took a couple of photos of her parents by the canons and the surrounding views behind them and they wandered the old building until they decided they had had enough and were ready to go to their next landmark.

Once they had walked back down the steep hill, they located a group of taxis and negotiated a price with the first driver to greet them in order to take them to Annandale Falls. It was a twenty five minute journey. Katya spent it in the back seat sending eye rolls to her mom across from her as her father chatted with the driver, telling terrible jokes wherever he could and asking too many questions.

They pulled up in front of the sign pointing them to their destination and trekked the short walk up amongst birds of paradise and towering, leafy plants. It was quite busy, other tourists flocking to the attraction. The falls poured into a jade green pool at its base. Rocks, jagged and browning from erosion, framed either side of it and were topped with dangling ferns and other greenery Katya couldn’t name. There was a barriered viewing platform closer to where the water tumbled yet observers could stand on boulders near the far edge of the pool, too. Katya stayed with her parents on the platform but thought that, if she were with Trixie, she would have dragged her to sit on the rocks, dangling their feet in the water and splashing about.

They stayed a short while longer until they all agreed that it was time to head back to the ship for lunch. “As nice as the island is, I don’t think there’s actually much here.” Her dad commented.

“Hmm no, just an abundance of goods for the Europeans to exploit.”

“I meant nowadays, Katya.”

“She knew that, she was just—”

“Oh my god, let’s go.” Katya interrupted before her parents got into semantics in front of twenty other tourists and embarrassed her for eternity. She loved them dearly but after a week of being in their company she was, as the saying went, done with their shit. Entirely.

After scoffing a curry and chasing it down with two bowls of ice cream, Katya changed into her red bikini, ready to sun herself on deck and taunt Trixie as she performed on the poolside stage. She was getting a proper tan by this point and admired herself in the mirror, liking how she had filled out a bit, her stomach rounder and ass a little less flat (a little). She stuck her tongue out at herself, lowered into goddess pose and waved at her reflection with both hands. “Goddess said hi.”

She dozed as she sunbathed, though was a lot more well rested that day than the couple previous. She enjoyed cocktails with her parents, who were happy to gush over the scenery and had apparently decided to get along for the time being, and eagerly awaited Trixie’s set.

“Hello, everyone, good afternoon. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful day here in sunny Grenada. I’ll be with you until we set sail this evening, playing some songs to ease you through the pain of having to wait a few hours until dinner.”

Katya shimmied to sit right on the bottom of her lounger and leant forwards, her elbows resting on her thighs with her hands under her chin. She didn’t care that she must have looked like a love sick fool. Trixie’s top was as low cut as she could have possibly gotten away with during family friendly entertainment and Katya was so motherfucking here for it.

She hummed along (badly) to a few of the songs Trixie played that she vaguely recognised and offered to get drinks in at the bar for her parents when it was clear she wasn’t going to take a break mid show.

“Yeah, go see your girl.” Her dad mocked her playfully. Katya slapped his arm as she went to collect his sea pass card but grinned all the way down the stairs until it was her turn to order.

She looked towards the stage as she waited for her drinks and tried to transmit silent messages to Trixie, ranging from ‘look this way’ to ‘please know that I am thinking about planting my face right in between your huge fucking titties right now’. “Ugh.” She accidentally said aloud, the man next to her doing a double take. She deftly moved away towards the stage, into Trixie’s eye line. Trixie was still singing but, as soon as their eyes met, she smiled around her lyrics. It changed how they sounded in Katya’s ears.

Trixie didn’t pause much to chat with the audience this time but sent Katya precious glances every now and then until Katya signalled that she had to take the drinks up to her parents. The ice in them was melting and the condensation on the glass started to dribble down her forearm. Before she went back, she ensured she had Trixie’s attention, raised her arm and licked a long stripe up to her wrist. Trixie’s voice cracked and Katya grinned until her cheeks ached.

She brushed off her parents’ enquiries about Trixie with eye rolls and sarcastic comments and settled into her chair with her pina colada to watch her perform her final few songs. It was beginning to get a little cooler on deck and she shivered when she swallowed a chunk of ice. She smiled around her straw as Trixie kept looking up in her vague direction but didn’t manage to spot her properly. When she dedicated her last track to a “special someone in the audience”, Katya thought she’d swoon and topple over the railings, even more so when the song in question turned out to be Spooky by Dusty Springfield.

“You fuckin’ romantic, Trixie Mattel.” She lamented to herself before her parents exclaimed how wonderful it was to be serenaded, very much approving of Trixie’s little display of affection. “I’m going to die.” She affected, covering her blushing cheeks.

“Aww, it’s lovely!” Her mom practically squealed and Katya determined to let Trixie know that if she ever did something like that again, in her parents’ presence at least, then she would be dutifully punished later.

There was another formal evening that night and so Katya delved into her finest attire with abandon, choosing a ridiculously oversized black sheer blouse with a bow tie front which tucked into a long black sequinned skirt. Its slit up the side was suitably slutty to contrast the shirt and she finished off her look with buttoned black gloves. She backcombed her hair and applied a smokey eye and selected her craziest, oversized earrings, and when she had slipped on her Louboutins, the memory of Trixie telling her she looked like a vampire witch from hell replayed in her mind, elicited a subconscious yelp of joy. She hummed Spooky to herself, all croaky and out of tune, and gathered her things for the evening.

She kissed her mini matryoshka before putting it back in its place in her clutch bag, thinking it had done a pretty excellent job of bringing her some good luck for a change.

After dinner, Katya’s parents headed off to the show and she headed aft to get some fresh air at the Oceanview Bar. She tried to read, to focus on her surroundings, to enjoy the taste of her specially made non-alcoholic cocktail (the overly friendly bartender was eager to please), and yet all her mind fixated on was Trixie. Her touch, her kiss, her obnoxious laugh, the questions Katya still wanted to ask her. It was an endless stream crashing through her like the tremendous waterfall she witnessed that morning. She thought it fitting that the sea was rougher, then, enough for her to really feel it, for the undulations of the ship to create peaks and troughs in her stomach.

Her mom and dad excitedly rushed up to the sky lounge once she rejoined them and she would have complained about their behaviour were she not glad to catch sight of Trixie slightly earlier than usual. Her parents got a table in direct view of Trixie and a waiter came straight away to take their order. Katya didn’t hesitate to request champagne. She had a very strong feeling she was going to need it.

Trixie sent her her usual saucy wink and began her next song, one Katya didn’t know. Her parents started discussing how stunning she looked, a pale pink feather boa across her shoulder and wound round her arms to complement her sequin dress. Katya thought it looked cheap, it’s corset not properly boned (unlike Trixie this week, Katya huffed a too-pleased-with-herself laugh) but striking anyway, as was everything Trixie put on her body.

“Good evening, everyone. If you’ve just joined us, my name’s Trixie Mattel and, yes, it costs a lot of money to look this cheap. Tonight my band and I will try our very best to get you dancing and drinking because we really do love to watch at least one person fall down.” After pausing for the audience’s reaction, Trixie introduced the guys and, once more, Katya instantly forgot their names. Maybe one was called Kyle. Maybe she was thinking of another white man. Who knows.

Her parents thankfully behaved themselves, getting up to dance every now and then and enjoying exploring some of the drinks menu they hadn’t done previously. Katya downed the rest of her champagne and kept her eyes fixed on Trixie, on the way she shook her boa, along with her broad shoulders, to the music, how she laughed as she turned to one of her bandmates to share an in-joke during an instrumental section, sipping from a bottle of water; how she visibly stopped herself from spending too long looking back at Katya too. Katya ordered another drink, sat back in her seat with her legs spread wide and arranged her skirt so the sequin material fell down the gap between her bare thighs. The next time Trixie turned her way, a blush bloomed on her cheeks.

A couple of hours in and her parents were taking a well earned rest (how they never tired of the same fucking dance moves, Katya didn’t know). Trixie spoke to the crowd for a short while as her bandmates arranged their instruments and Katya, while she couldn’t stop thinking about touching her later, also couldn’t stop thinking about talking with her into the early hours. For as much as she was far too old to be doing such a thing, it rejuvenated her too and she felt a curious sort of compulsion to explore another range of subjects with Trixie, see what else they had in common or what they could spar over.

“So for this next one, the hunks behind me like showing off with an extended intro. That leaves me with nothing much to do and I’m wondering if there’s someone I can bring up here to keep me company…”

Katya didn’t miss the way her parents both whipped their heads around to her in anticipation, nor how her own pulse raced. It didn’t help, either, when Trixie clumsily stepped off the stage and shuffled towards her table. And she really wished the ground would have opened up and swallowed her whole until Trixie came to stand in front of her dad and held out one hand in invitation, the other holding her microphone. She was saying something about him being all suave in his James Bond tux but Katya was too occupied going through the entire spectrum of emotions to really listen.

Her mom laughed at her side, cheered as her father obliged Trixie and got up, spinning her before she even expected it, and squeezed Katya’s forearm with amusement.

Once her initial shock had cleared somewhat, Katya smiled too at how Trixie asked him his name, where he was from and who he was onboard with. “Oh, how lovely. And what a gorgeous family you have.” She cooed, purposefully emphasising her words and making Katya laugh.

For a minute or so (or a fucking lifetime), Katya’s father politely held Trixie and danced with her, twirling her in time with the music. Trixie had turned her microphone off for the time being and so Katya couldn’t hear what the two of them were saying to each other.

“Jesus, I loathe to think what he’s going on about.” She bemoaned to her mom, who smiled in sympathy.

“I wouldn’t worry, you know what he gets like with his peacocking. He’ll just be boasting about your postgrad or what you did for the women’s shelters, as always.”

Katya covered her face in her hands. “Still? That was all years ago. Kill me now.”

“Hey, none of that.” Her mom told her off and she sat up again and finished her drink like a good girl (ha!).

Trixie turned her mic back on and encouraged the crowd to give Katya’s dad a round of applause for being such a good sport. Trixie gave Katya a wink before she turned around at the crescendo of the band’s music, and belted out her lyrics. Katya gripped her own thighs in awe of the power of her voice and decided that, yes, Trixie really had it coming to her that night, for all that she had put Katya through so far.

Katya refrained from interrogating her dad but, when he had settled back into his seat, he nodded in great approval and informed her that Trixie wasn’t bad at all. In dad language, that practically meant she was perfect. Katya couldn’t disagree.

At the end of the show, her parents bugged her to let them introduce themselves to Trixie properly and, knowing she was fighting a losing battle if she were to protest, huffed, “Go on, then.”

She brought them to the side of the stage just as the house lights went up and Trixie began unplugging her guitar, and waited until she had got sorted before calling her over. It was all very polite and normal, which unnerved Katya even more, her parents shaking her hand and complimenting her and telling her how gorgeous she looked. Trixie, for all she was usually fiery and crude, did a fantastic job of charming them. Katya kept quiet, merely observing their interaction. Her parents didn’t hog Trixie’s attention for too long and Katya was grateful for how her mom tugged on her dad’s sleeve, silently telling him to wrap things up.

They wished them both a lovely evening and kissed Katya’s cheeks before leaving. Katya watched them go, rather shell shocked. Trixie chuckled at her and praised her mom and dad for how wonderful and loving they appeared. “Get it together, you freak,” She squawked, “I would give anything to have folks like yours.”

“I know, I know. They’re grossly fantastic and I’m very lucky blah blah blah but, god, they’re still embarrassing.”

Katya went down to her cabin whilst Trixie finished packing up and waited for her, preparing differently that night. She took off her skirt and shirt and earrings and tied her hair up in a tight bun. She left her gloves on and her heels, matching the fierce style of her underwear. It was the one actually sexy set she’d brought. She recalled holding it all above her open suitcase and deliberating just whether it was worth packing. Katya was very glad she had decided the affirmative.

The bra had a high neck in a bondage style which criss-crossed above her breasts and gave teasing glimpses with a cage effect pattern. Her briefs matched, straps framing her ass in a low rise silhouette, weaving together and apart so the pale of her skin contrasted the black elasticated material.

She checked herself over and paced up and down - the effect of what she was considering. “You’re still you, you’re still you.” She repeated to her own anxieties as she cracked her fingers, rotated her wrists in keyed up circles. She had been domineering, before. Dominant. She had no idea if she was still capable of finding harmless enjoyment out of the things that came with such traits, that her mind hadn’t been altered by her chemical imbalance to associate pleasure and pain in a way no longer free from extra implications.

Trixie arriving at her door propelled her to action, just as it had the previous nights. The similarity softened the spikes of worry inside her. Besides, she had to confirm what Trixie would be willing to do, first. She might have prematurely created a crisis when there needn’t have been one (and if that didn’t sum up her year, she didn’t know what did).

She opened the door slowly, standing behind it to let Trixie in without giving her - or anyone who might have been walking by in the hallway - too much of an eye full.

“Hello.” Trixie inflected, mouth comically falling open once she got a good look at her.

“Everything ok over there?” Katya smirked, hoping the still-red of her lips made her look sultry instead of deranged.

“Could say the same to you.” There were several feet between them and Katya had hoped that the distance would have masked her nervous energy. “You look incredibly hot. Like, spit on me, step on me, snap my neck, mommy, kinda hot. And also like you’re about to shit yourself. So, considering we’ve established it’s too soon to be getting all up in that, do you want to talk before I beg you to pound my pussy like yesterday’s beef?”

Trixie and her way with words loosened her up, made her laugh and careen towards her to wrap her arm around her middle and pull her into her side. She pressed her nose into her hair and sniffed, and Trixie, with her hand on her butt, told her earnestly that they didn’t have to do a thing apart from laze about if Katya was having any down moments.

“It’s not a down moment, don’t worry.” She reassured her, bringing her to sit on the edge of her bed. She decided to perch on Trixie’s lap, then quickly realised that it was best to face her and so straddled her instead. She wanted to let Trixie know that her kinky shit was absolutely still on the cards as she carefully chose her words, an explanation of something not even fully formed or actualised. She was used to working through things by herself (once she had resolutely ignored them for far, far too long, of course). Doing so in real time with Trixie was...new.

“What is it?” Trixie held her, not too tight to overwhelm or pressure her and not too light so as to patronise or baby her either.

“You riled me up today. I mean that, like— it’s good, like, wow you were so amazing with my parents - thank you for that, by the way - but also...fuck, I want to bend you over my knee and spank you silly.”

Katya noted the flush on Trixie’s face, the hitch of her breath. “I would, yeah, I would enjoy that.”

Katya dipped her head to kiss Trixie’s shoulder. “Good. I used to be really into, y’know, that kind of stuff. I don’t know if it’s still something I’d be so into now but I want to try. With you.”

“I’m into it, but I’m also so fucking into everything we’ve been doing already. Doesn’t change anything for me if you get to a point and you’re like, nope, I’m out.”

“Ugh, why are you so nice? No, not nice. You’re not nice. Caring. How dare you make me feel heard, seen—”

Trixie cackled, tipped her head back and interrupted Katya’s spiel, “Oh my god, shut up and beat my slutty ass to a pulp. Is that too far?”

Wheezing with laughter, Katya pushed Trixie onto her back, gripping her forearm and shaking it about between them as they crashed and rolled into each other.

“Ok, I gotta be serious now.” She said, eventually sitting up and closing her eyes, deep breathing and floating her hands up and down in front of her face. That only made Trixie giggle more until she realised Katya was, indeed, being serious, actually trying to get into the zone.

“Oh shit, full on meditative state here. My ass is in for it.” She commented, earning a slap to her thigh. The itchy, sequinned material of her dress impeded any real impact and Katya couldn’t help but huff a laugh at her, still flopped on the mattress, double chin on glorious display (Katya was jealous and nobody understood that, told her the grass was always greener on the other side) and hair fanned out behind her.

“I’ll kiss it better later, don’t worry.”

Katya looked down at her, how she parted her lips in anticipation, and traced from one of her collar bones to the other with a gentle fingertip.

“You looked really beautiful tonight. My parents wouldn’t shut up about how gorgeous you are.” Katya rubbed her thumb over Trixie’s shoulder, trailed her hand down her arm. Trixie linked their fingers, brought their palms together so they kissed.

“I’m not averse to you not shutting up about that either.”

Katya rolled her eyes but leant down to kiss her, a short insistent press upon her lips to give her a taste of things to come but nothing more.

“Stand up and take your dress off.”

Trixie stole another kiss before she did as she was told. Katya watched, right on the edge of the mattress, as she reached behind herself and undid the bodice of the gown first. It brought a gap between the v cut of her neckline and her cleavage, giving just a glimpse of her breasts beneath the dusky pink. She took her time, playing up to Katya how she wanted, giving a little then taking it back. She kicked her shoes off and away, pushed the top of her dress down to expose her body, her hourglass curves. Katya bit her lip as Trixie brought the rest of the gown to the floor and showed off her underwear, a plush pink heart barely covering her cunt, linked by two pink straps on each side which tied at her hips. She hadn’t put them in bows as that would have ruined her silhouette and so had double knotted them instead.

“So gorgeous.” Katya swallowed. “Face the windows. Put your hands up on the glass.”

She sauntered behind Trixie, making her wait enough for her to turn her head and look back at her with incredulity.

“I’m right here looking this good and you’re taking your damn time. Really?”

Katya wasn’t one bit surprised by her brattishness but it excited her further, to know that she wouldn’t just be complicit, that there would still be a fire and a tension between them like when they bantered back and forth.

“Put your forehead on the window. Don’t look at me again.”

Trixie opened her mouth to no doubt fire back something witty but Katya didn’t give her chance.

“Now.”

Trixie tilted her head forward and brought her forearms to the glass too. Katya stepped closer. When she was roughly an arms length away, she reached her gloved hand to one of the ties of Trixie’s underwear. She pinched and tugged so that the tiny knot she had made unfurled. She flicked her index finger down to properly separate the ribbon and watched it all slide down her legs after another pull on the other side.

Katya observed Trixie’s bare ass, grabbed her hips and positioned her so it was sticking out and up slightly for her. She ran a hand over the softest part of her cheek, felt Trixie shift her stance, widening it in preparation for whatever Katya had in store for her.

“Your ass is to die for. If I wasn’t in recovery I’d be making my plans to suffocate under that thing.” As soon as she said it, Katya worried that she had gone too far, that she had taken the situation somewhere it needn’t have gone. But Trixie laughed and Katya noticed how the glass fogged up near her face. She breathed a sigh of relief when Trixie told her they still had time yet. “Shh.” She warned her and raised her hand, trying to estimate how hard she needed to bring it down.

She played it safe at first, smacking Trixie’s right cheek with her dominant hand but keeping the force of it lacking in intensity. The sound her impact made was more a dull thud than anything more powerful but Trixie gasped anyway, played the part she had been assigned so beautifully - the bratty sub, fit to fulfil Katya’s whim and fancy. Katya awarded her by rubbing over the swell of her ass, not dipping more centrally or lower, but ensuring the silkiness of her gloves was pleasurable to her nevertheless.

“All good?” Katya checked.

“More.” Trixie whined and Katya delivered, slapping the same spot harder. “Please,” Trixie continued, “No gloves, just you.”

“We’ll get to that, have some patience.” Katya taunted her with her gloves a few more times before peeling them off and spreading Trixie’s cheeks with a tighter grip so she could inspect the wetness dripping out of her. “Not bad, but I think we can take it further, yes?”

“Yes.” Trixie exhaled as Katya gripped both her cheeks simultaneously, much harder than before so that when she broke the contact, there were still marks on her skin in the shape of her fingers.

Her next slaps were louder, caused Trixie’s body to jolt forward and press more insistently against the balcony doors. Katya wondered what they looked like from the outside, with Trixie’s breasts squashed up against the glass and her heated face steaming the window up beyond where parts of her made impressions upon it. Katya, still in her heels, was roughly the same height as Trixie but how she moved her body and had the power to pull a succession of stuttered reactions out of her established her as the dominant figure. Over and over again.

Whereas, earlier that week, she had felt unfamiliar to herself, stepping back into such a role helped her rediscover her confidence, the aspects of her personality that could be strong and bold and in charge. It wasn’t her whole self. If nothing else, depression had helped her see the extent of her multidimensionality. But it was an important part of who she had flourished into being. And, that night, with Trixie, she finally felt supported and content enough to rediscover it again.

Witnessing the effects of her exploration on Trixie only reinforced how perfect it all was. Trixie’s wetness captured her attention and so she ran her fingers down to her entrance and coated them in the evidence of her unabashed arousal. Trixie moaned and Katya watched her restrain herself from asking for more, for pushing back. She spanked her again, twice in quick succession, and smirked at the transference of wetness from her fingers to Trixie’s ass cheek.

“Excellent.” She praised Trixie and got to her knees behind her. She ran her hands down Trixie’s lower back and brought her face right up to her. She blew down Trixie’s centre, making her shiver.

“What are you going to do to me now?” Trixie asked.

“Whatever I want.” Katya retorted, though it was all purposeful entertainment. Katya was going to give what Trixie was yearning for. She just needed to delay it that bit longer, to ensure the release of her control was even more satisfying.

Katya stuck out her tongue and edged towards the wet spots on Trixie’s skin, licked long, leisurely stripes up and beyond them. When she pulled back, she noted the way Trixie was struggling to keep herself in place, how her arms were trembling and her fingers tried to clutch feebly at the flatness of the glass. Katya moved nearer to Trixie’s entrance, angled her head so she was partly underneath her and flicked out her tongue to tease her one final time.

“Oh my—” Trixie choked on her words.

“You were so good for me, then.” Katya cooed. “Do you want me inside you?”

“You have no idea.” It sounded as if Trixie was on the verge of tears. She wasn’t - Katya wasn’t that magical - but the mere idea of it delighted her, nudged her own arousal to the forefront of her mind.

“Tell me.”

“I need your tongue inside me.”

Katya strained upwards, brought her lips to Trixie’s cunt and made her come harder than either of them had probably expected.

-

“What do your family think of your job?” Katya queried. She lay with Trixie’s head on her stomach, legs dangling off her bed, her body floppy and beautifully worn out.

Trixie had explored every inch of her in her fancy underwear and was so eager to give Katya an equally thrilling experience to what she had given her, that she hadn’t even wasted time taking it off. She had shoved her hand down the front of her briefs and brought her to completion, Katya’s sweaty back against the window and her head tipped back in ecstasy.

They had come away from the doors and observed the smears and smudges they had both made upon it and snickered into each other’s necks, exclaiming how filthy they were, positively disgusting. They dutifully cleaned it up, not wanting to give Katya’s cabin attendant a fright, then toppled into bed. Katya had taken her underwear off and spread out with her legs wide apart. Trixie had settled in between them and they had recovered in comfortable silence, together.

“My mom doesn’t care. I could be a millionaire and buy her a mansion and she’d be like ‘ok, and?’” Trixie laughed and Katya found it strange. “She’s way too chill for her own good, sometimes. That could be the weed though.”

“Ah,” Katya grinned, “Like mother like daughter, then?”

“Don’t worry, we’re massively different in almost every other way. You’re not sleeping with a middle aged Native woman with a list of health problems as long as my arm.”

“I’m not? Fuck.” Trixie bit at her side in retaliation and Katya wriggled until she stopped. “I can’t believe there are only five days left of this trip...It’s gone so quick.”

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” Trixie supplied. Katya wondered, for the first time, if she had grown attached to Katya’s company or if she was too used to everything being temporary to fall foul to sentimentality.

“Definitely had fun.” Katya ran her hands through Trixie’s hair. She didn’t quite know what else to say.

They lay with their awkwardness, real or imagined, until Katya decided it was time for some snacks and a drink. She was going to order a hot chocolate but, when Trixie told her she wanted a Jack and coke, she decided on champagne. It gave her the crutch of dutch courage on the off chance things did actually turn a little awry.

Ernesto brought them a platter and Katya chatted with him for a while, having put on a dressing gown and given Trixie the baggy t-shirt she had worn before, asking about his day and when he would next get some time off to disembark.

Once she returned to bed, whatever blip had transpired had just as promptly evaporated. They clinked their glasses and Trixie tucked in to the majority of the food, Katya picking here and there and making fun of Trixie’s drink.

“When people tell me they’re surprised that I’ve shit myself before, I’m like, I drink whiskey and eat way too much pizza each week, do the math.”

They chatted until they finished everything on the plate and Katya eased onto her pillow, empty glass in her tired fingers dangling over the edge of the bed.

Trixie poked her under her chin, made fun of her for being so sleepy.

“I’m no cruise performer, I’m not used to partying until I drop.”

“Too busy just dropping.”

“Dead.”

They cackled at each other and Katya liked how they could finish one another’s punchlines, no matter how good or bad they were.

After doing their nighttime ablutions, they got under the duvet and Trixie, suddenly needy and softened from their shared slobbing about, wrapped her arm around Katya and nuzzled into her neck, planting random kisses to her pulse point.

“I hope what we did tonight helped in some way. I don’t know what it’s like, any of it really, but...yeah, I’m just happy you have faith in me not to take advantage or patronise you or whatever. I can imagine it’s a lot.”

“I meant it when I said you’re really caring. Meeting you has made my year. And I know that’s not much of a compliment when my year has been a living hell day in day out,” She paused to share the hilarity Trixie found in her situation, “But it’s a compliment to you all the same.”

Katya curled her finger beneath Trixie’s chin, bringing her face up so they were level. She kissed her, then wished her goodnight and slept soundly.

Chapter Text

She left Trixie in bed with the plan of going on a ‘date’ that night as Trixie had the evening off. They arranged to meet at the Oceanview Bar at nine and Katya got stupidly excited by the idea of it all.

They had woken to her alarm, bleary eyed but content and smiling against each other’s mouths. Katya had thrown the balcony doors open, giving Trixie a cheeky wink as she did so, and they had observed the new scenery together, hips nudging one another’s by the railing. Trixie had told Katya roughly how many times she had woken up to the greying wooden pier below and the hills nudging up towards the low morning clouds, and Katya had asked her if the sights still amazed her or were no longer a novelty.

“It’s more, like, normal but I never take it for granted.”

Katya’s mom and dad inundated her with questions at the gym and she did her best to answer them - or subtly avoid them. It made her workout easier, in a way, because she was so focussed on pleasing her parents whilst not setting them up for disappointment or further expectation, that she didn’t even realise when her time was up on each machine. “Shit.” She panted, reaching a distance on the treadmill that she hadn’t done in months and months.

Sweat dripped down her back and stained her clothes, her muscles ached and her face was red right down to her chest. She gulped her water and gazed out of the windows as her mom led their cool down stretches. The tiny black crop top and matching shorts she was wearing were soaked, showing off her fuller figure. She admired herself on the way out of the gym and liked what she saw. That was still a novelty to her. She did a double take just to be sure.

After a three course breakfast and two cups of coffee to really get her going, Katya followed her parents down the gangway. Though it was warm outside, the sun lay hidden behind the clouds, peeping out every now and then. They walked briskly further into the town of Roseau though quickly determined they didn’t want to wander around much more than necessary after Katya got catcalled by a man on crutches with a heavily bleeding leg.

“Good to know I’ve still got it.” She intoned as her dad found a reliable looking taxi rank and hailed them a ride to Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Her mom gripped her hand the entire journey there. She wondered if that was the first time her mom had actually felt uneasy whilst travelling, solely because the negative attention had been directed at Katya.

The taxi pulled up by the visitor centre and Katya and her mom scrambled out as her dad paid.

“Are you ok?” Her mom asked.

“Yeah. Yeah! Don’t get all wound up. That happens all the time back home. Just, usually, the guy isn’t bleeding out. Usually.” She jibed and her mom huffed a laugh, seeming to relax. They linked arms as they searched for the starting point of the trail and waited for her dad to catch up before they found the signposted route to the geysers and bubbling lake.

It was a long day, more strenuous than Katya had anticipated and the rough terrain in some parts of the rainforest where there were less defined paths tested her muscle strength. The ground was slushy in spots but the lush parkland was beautiful and leafy and flourishing. Waterfalls and ferns decorated the mountainsides and the water of the lake was an insane pale blue-green. Katya tried to take photos but got frustrated with how her iPhone couldn’t even begin to depict the remarkable feats of nature around her.

They eventually came towards the geysers, the ejection of steam from in between the rocks swirling and rising to meet and blend with the sky. A few hikers had wandered amongst them and so Katya’s dad suggested they do the same. Katya, once she had got to the centre of it all, closed her eyes and felt the rush of steam stroke her face. It was hot (of course) but pleasant and, though she was sweaty already, it wasn’t uncomfortable.

It was even more difficult, trekking back, and Katya was relieved that there were a queue of taxis waiting to return people to the port. They all got in one straight away, conscious of getting back to the ship in time, and Katya yawned all the way there. “Jesus,” She cursed, “That was incredible but so fucking exhausting.”

Her parents agreed and they decided to head up to their cabins, ordering snacks from the concierge and having a well deserved nap. Katya was so tired that she only realised she had forgotten about telling her parents of her evening plans when she was lying flat on her back in bed and feeding herself canapés.

She smiled to herself as she thought over the night before with Trixie and, though she realised she probably had a few thoughts to process, she sank further into the mattress, pushed her empty platter away and almost instantly fell asleep.

-

It was silly. So silly. Horrendously silly, in fact, to be knelt over the toilet bowl and gagging from nerves over one minute word. In the confinement of her stateroom without the distractions of the outside, reality crashed down on her harder than raging water. It was illogical and unfounded, especially after the success of her nights with Trixie so far, but there she was, a bit of a wreck, because she barely went on dates before and certainly had never considered doing so during. At other times, when she was feeling positive and like she was making good progress, she might have tentatively considered herself to be tiptoeing into the ‘after depression’ period. Dating seemed like a whole other world for her, even post-recovery.

Either way, in that moment, she was sent right back to the very worst of it. And boy did she think herself an idiot. If nothing else, acting in such a manner was doing Trixie a huge disservice.

“She’s a doll.” Katya drawled in a heavy Boston accent, lifting herself up and steadying herself against the sink. She was half dressed and half done up and had half the time she assumed she had left to finish up. She had agonised over what to wear and had to verbally remind herself that Trixie had seen her at all angles, in her slobbiest form, and still not only wanted to fuck her but also hold a lengthy conversation with her. That was a true testament, Katya thought. She finished up her look and spent her remaining few minutes trying to cool herself on her balcony. “You’ve got dinner to get through first, you dumb whore.”

Her mom cottoned on as soon as she didn’t accept a bread roll from the waiter.

“Not hungry, darling?” She tested the waters and Katya couldn’t not metaphorically applaud her for her tact. Her dad had his nose in the menu, talking to himself about the starters.

“Uh...no. Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you I’m meeting Trixie tonight ‘cause she has the night off.”

She didn’t quite like the manner in which her mom studied her, nodded slowly. Katya could see her piecing things together. She looked away, at the empty plate to her left.

“What’s different about tonight, then, that’s got you all…?” Her mom waved her hand about before her.

“Nothing.” She began to pretend, and soon gave up when her mom raised her overly-plucked eyebrows at her. Her dad also joined in on the disbelief. “It’s just...we’re having a date. A date.”

“As opposed to a cranberry.” Her dad joked and it was so fucking terrible that she slapped the table, rattling all the cutlery, as she cackled.

“That’s not helping is it.” Her mom berated him.

“It is! Look, she’s not all gloomy and brooding now.”

Katya, huffing a final laugh, sat straight again and regained her composure. “Oh my god, please stop. It’s fine, I’m just, y’know, it seems a big deal maybe.”

“Why, haven’t you two been on dates this whole time? I know I’m old and out of it but surely it’s all the same thing?”

Katya resented when her dad made sense. She could handle the terrible comedy and the simplicity of their relationship, but when he got all wise and helpful, it was too much for her.

“They’ve not put a name to anything, have you, Katya, and that’s what's different this time, hmm?” Her mom supplied.

Katya nodded and listened to their words of encouragement and assurance that nothing would have changed in reality. She was able to eat most of her dinner and even shared some cheese and biscuits with her dad, though she refused a sip of his port.

“Are you sure? Certain? A hundred percent?” He bugged her until she told him to shut up.

“Men.” Her mom mouthed with an eye roll, like usual.

Katya left them upon exiting the restaurant, heading up to the bar via the elevators. On the way up, she tried to subtly check her appearance, in amongst everyone else. Her lipstick had faded in the centre of her lips but before she had chance to top it up, the doors opened and she had to follow the small crowd out.

To get to the bar, she had to walk through Oceanview Cafe first. She clenched and unclenched her fists as she went, taking note of the few tables that were filled with people and their emptying plates. Just as she was about to reach the doors to the outside, someone caught her eye.

Blonde fringe, pink dress, broad shoulders slumped lazily. “Trixie?”

She looked up at her with unfocused eyes. Katya counted three, four, five different desserts dotted about on her table and laughed at the clumsy grin that slowly spread over her face. She wasn’t wearing any makeup and her hair was falling in loose waves down her back and the sides of her shoulders. Her eyes, usually wide and alert and emotive, seemed smaller.

“Oh my god, is that Sharon Stone?” She exclaimed, and if Katya hadn’t learnt her mannerisms off by heart in the days they had spent together, she might not have twigged just how absolutely baked she was. Making fun of Katya animated her more, but there was a noticeable change in her demeanour and Katya was rather glad to see it. Trixie’s state made her feel infinitely better about her own earlier.

Katya came to sit down in front of her, trying to do her best Basic Instinct bit and no doubt failing spectacularly. Trixie nevertheless picked up on her impression and laughed loudly before nudging a plate of brownies her way.

“These aren’t special brownies are they?”

“No, I had quite a few of those back downstairs. These are incredible too, though.”

Katya took one between her thumb and forefinger, more to appease Trixie than with the intention of actually eating it. “Just how many, you lowlife?”

“Hey! Only three bite size ones. I didn’t want to show up seeing the devil through my kneecaps but,” She leant forward as if she was conspiring a top secret plan, “I’m very close to being able to taste your hair if I look at it for too long.”

Katya humoured her, nerves completely forgotten about. “And what does my hair taste like?”

“Vanilla. Which is funny because that’s the last word I’d use to describe you!”

“Ha ha. I should certainly hope not.”

Katya asked her where she got her stash from and increasingly widened her eyes as Trixie explained how one of the dancers managed to get it onboard. “Yeah, she isn’t afraid to, ha, take one for the team, I guess.”

“Weed pussy.” Was all Katya could really contribute by that point but it cracked them both up anyway. Katya finished off her brownie, laughing at Trixie staring at her. “What? What? I feel like you’re trying to determine what my other body parts taste like.”

“Oh honey, I certainly know the taste of one particular part, honey. Hon-ey.”

There was no use in pretending not to be endeared. Katya reached across the table to where Trixie had started arranging some crumbs into an indistinguishable pattern. She took hold of Trixie’s hand, commenting on how it really was a date now they were tentatively showing affection in public (how scandalous!) and eating food across from each other instead of sluggishly, cross legged on Katya’s bed.

“Don’t get me wrong, I fucking loved that too.” Katya quickly added and Trixie smiled, tucking her chin in like she was trying to hide the extent of her delight. “I just haven’t been, well, out at all, really, for ages. And I haven’t been around people and...uh, I guess what I’m saying is that, uh, you’re bearable to be in the presence of. Congratulations, Trixie Mattel, you have won my tolerance.”

“Oh wow, thank you so much.” She intoned. “I’ve not decided about you yet though. I mean, the major character flaws, the lizard skin, the dry lips...Eh, who am I kidding? That cunt owns me for the rest of this trip.”

When Trixie decided she had eaten enough (and that was only after getting ice cream and insisting on feeding Katya some straight from her spoon), they linked arms and finally made it to their original destination. The bar was busier than the buffet had been but Katya dragged them to a table away from where the mixologists were casually flipping bottles of vodka to keep the people sitting on the stools in front of them entertained. Katya didn’t need all that. Trixie was with her and that was better amusement than anything else the ship could provide.

Trixie announced she would get their drinks for them, not even asking Katya what she wanted before ambling up to one of the bartenders she knew by name. She hung around way too long, as if she was merely unaware of how time was passing. Katya watched her, not feeling neglected or bored, but like she was invited into Trixie’s world, to observe, to play around, and it needn’t have even been spoken about. It was a given that she was there to witness how Trixie flopped onto her forearms to continue the conversation, drinks in front of her temporarily forgotten about. And when Trixie did remember where she was meant to be, Katya welcomed her back with a cheer.

“Champagne for the lady.” She sat and edged it across to Katya, studying the bubbles rising to the surface, her face as close as possible to the glass so her back hunched.

Katya bent her head low too so she was on her level. “Thank you. Notre Dam will be missing your services.” It took a minute for Trixie to catch on, but when she did, Katya was rewarded spectacularly.

She couldn’t figure out how long they sat, the breeze and blackness of the Caribbean night surrounding them, exposing their openness. Katya mentioned that she would have hated for Trixie to have gotten in trouble if they were seen by an officer, but Trixie brushed her concerns away with a gentle hand to the side of her face where a strand of her hair had tangled. She tucked it behind Katya’s ear and commented how cute she looked like that.

“Shut up.” She felt herself blushing. ‘Cute’ was certainly one of the last words she’d ever use to describe herself. Outside perspective was a positive influence, however. She reminded herself so. It was a relief to no longer be so insular, to see the bad, the same old. Trixie brought about a difference.

What did she give to her in return?

Trixie didn’t give her a chance to follow that train of thought, firing back a predictable “make me” and a less predictable admission. “Actually, I really want to, y’know, take care of you. Again. Tonight. If you catch my drift.”

“Sweetie, the old man in the suit all the way over there caught your drift. And hopefully nothing else off of you.”

Trixie shook her head, an intentional seriousness upon her features which Katya was clearly not to mess with. “No, listen, like, I’m such a bottom, you fucking know that after— no, that’s not actually the point here. Like, when I’m dating someone I love being the one to help and console and offer advice and, of course, in the past that’s got me in some trouble - ooh, heartbreak - and I’m not saying I see you as this broken thing that needs to be fixed, but, for some reason, it feels like we were meant to meet at this specific moment in time, like I’m what you need right now. So I want to be that tonight and I want to be the one to figure out what ‘that’ actually is.”

The discomfort of honesty made Katya want to give in to her own knee jerk reactions, play down what Trixie said as if it was just the weed talking. In the spirit of immersing herself in change, Katya held her tongue, let Trixie’s words sit with her for a while before she calculated where to go from there.

“Ok.” She told her. It wasn’t simple but Katya truly believed, with Trixie, that it could be if she let go. Making a mistake was what had got her so ill in the first place, so it was understandable that misjudging a situation could be daunting, to be putting her trust in someone else even more so. But Katya was tired. Tired of worrying and being the one with so much fucking responsibility over herself.

Whatever Trixie wanted, she was pretty sure she was going to give it to her.

They each had a couple more drinks, watching the bar slowly empty out until there were only a few other guests also having a final tipple before turning in for the night. Katya reached out to stroke her hand down Trixie’s arm, following the trail of goosebumps until she got to her wrist. She rested her hand on top of Trixie’s and fought the urge to fidget, to press her fingertips into her skin or play with something - a finger, an idea, a feeling.

She downed the last of her champagne. “Tell me when you’re ready to go. Tonight’s down to you.”

“I got the power!” Trixie sang, high-pitched and giggly afterwards. She stood, beckoned Katya towards her and kissed her, square on the mouth and out-n-proud and Katya smiled into it. Trixie wrapped her arm around Katya’s shoulders, pulling her in closer. They walked, hips attached, to the stairway, taking their time whilst Trixie told her stories of first arriving on the ship, first performing on a cruise liner at all. “I was baby, really.”

“You’re still baby.” Katya leaned up to kiss her cheek, all the while sneakily patting her butt and giving it a pinch for good measure.

“You and your forty year old wisdom.”

Katya had long given up thinking of her age with any real brevity. Mainly because she hadn’t felt as if she was likely to make it to forty. Now those two years or so felt very short, like she had been robbed of a year of her life already and so needed another one to make up for it. And, of course, age was but a number, time was merely a rough concept and acting the fool and looking hot made her charmingly elusive enough anyway.

“If I was stupid and lied about my age, how far do you think I could push it?” She asked as they turned down the corridor leading to her cabin.

“Hmm.” Trixie paused. They arrived outside Katya’s door and Katya waited for her response before rummaging for her card. “Thirty seven?”

Even after crashing through the door, Katya didn’t let go of Trixie’s forearm, shaking it in the meagre space between them and bumping into her with every new roll of laughter. They both somehow made it to Katya’s bed, toppling down onto it in unison. Trixie didn’t hesitate to kiss her again, turning on her side and pressing herself into Katya. Katya looked up at her, an angel in devil’s disguise, and slipped her tongue into her mouth, sucking on her bottom lip to make her whine. Trixie settled right on top of her, reminding her what their arrangement was from then on.

“Seriously though, you don’t seem— and it’s not even to do with looks, though you’re fucking banging, like, oh my god, how dare you. But, y’know, you’re just...youthful. You’re silly and strange and you don’t have your shit together and I like that. I don’t ever want to completely have life sorted because then where do you go from there?”

Katya grinned. “Damn, we have a philosopher in our midst.”

Trixie playfully tapped her shoulder, not even hard enough for Katya to consider it a slap. “Shut up, you know what I mean.”

“I do. And I agree. Though I think it took me having a fucking breakdown over something that, now, I can see was really not that big of a deal, to really believe it.”

It was very weird timing, Katya thought, to be admitting such a thing when Trixie was pulling her dress up over her head and throwing it aside. But it was also true to form, to be actually living out the belief of there never being the right moment and that actual excellence, if not perfection, didn’t exist at all.

“What happened, Katya?” Trixie asked and Katya told her - how she had prided herself on her business not relying on outside parties, on all of her stylists being actual humans physically out in stores, choosing the clothes they thought suited their clients after a long phone or email exchange to pack up and send off in their boxes; how a company pitched their idea to her, so that, if they used their system, her stylists supposedly would have had more time to be out and about selecting the right items by cutting out the initial conversation with the customer and replacing it with a digital survey; how, upon agreeing to it, hundreds of complaints flooded in about a clear change in standards and accuracy.

She recalled how she had glued herself to her phone, not so she could solve the problems that had arisen but so she could read every single negative review she received, every single email detailing a customer’s dissatisfaction, and beat herself up over it, fixate and flagellate. She described how she sank lower and lower because she wasn’t able to get herself or the rest of her team out of such a mess, and how she pretended everything was fine until she literally couldn’t get out of bed one morning. “I hadn’t slept, I’d cried all fucking night and, I’m not proud of it, but I wanted to punish myself any way I could. So I punched myself over and over and over until I couldn’t even physically raise my arm anymore. My assistant, Fena, she found me when I wasn’t responding to any calls or whatever and, uh, yeah, she took over and fucking saved everything.”

The world didn’t end, nor did she feel the kind of shame she was terrified of, the sort that taunted and jumped out behind curtains and around corners, so unsuspectingly. It wasn’t easy to admit aloud, but it was easier than it had been to admit to herself when it was all unfolding, and Trixie’s kiss once she had finished her recollection helped put a full stop to her story. And, whilst it punctuated an end, it signified a beginning, too.

Trixie undressed the both of them, reminded her Katya was safe with her, that she respected her and that, “more importantly”, she wanted to fuck her all night, until they saw the sun again.

“I think I can get onboard with that.”

Trixie rolled her eyes at the terrible cruising pun, told her she was coming for her gig but that she wouldn’t be able to stand the constant human interaction so perhaps it wasn’t for her. “And you can’t sing, that’s a pretty big obstacle here.”

Katya gasped. “How do you know I can’t sing? I might secretly be a Mariah or a, uh, Gaga or—”

“Or a complete, utter loon who needs to shut the fuck up and let me eat her out?”

Katya raised her brows and motioned zipping up her mouth. She positioned herself over Trixie’s face upon direction (her favourite and clearly their first night together had left a lasting impression on Trixie too, by how she lay beneath her with her tongue ready for her, her eager hands grasping at her and pulling her down). Katya sank onto her, starting a new kind of conversation.

Trixie’s tongue explored her as if she hadn’t done so before, taking her time to lick different patterns against her, determining which were most effective for drawing the experience out or for heightening the intensity. Katya moaned from the back of her tightening throat, tipped her head back and enjoyed the burn in her thighs as she began to rock over Trixie, who chased her and increased her pace to keep Katya at her mercy. Katya cupped her own breasts and squeezed, another whimper escaping her lips as she pinched her nipples, rubbed over them in synchronised circles.

Trixie licked up from where she was wettest to her clit. She made a figure of eight around it, went the opposite way and flattened her tongue to reach as much of her as she could at once. Then, just as Katya was getting comfortable with a steady build of sensation, Trixie sucked on her clit, pointed her tongue and flicked it over and over and Katya, with her hand over her mouth, biting the heel of her palm, climaxed, a long series of violent shudders coming one after the other.

Trixie didn’t give her time to come down, guiding her down so her face was in between her legs.

“See how wet you make me.” She breathed. Katya felt her exhalations against where she was still most sensitive, causing her to grip the bedsheets and clench. “Please.” Trixie whispered. “Go down on me like this.”

“Mmm.” Katya lowered her head, shimmied here and there so she was at the right angle and could get exactly where she desired to go.

Katya was messier than Trixie had been, less precise and more all in. Her head still rang with the sound of her own stifled noises and she quivered every time Trixie so much as sighed because she was still so close to her. She bargained that if she edged back even just an inch, Trixie's nose would be pressed up against her cunt again. She was too enthralled to think beyond that but the possibility of more excited her.

Katya, needing to catch her breath, pulled back and replaced her tongue with her fingers, rubbing up and down each side of Trixie’s clit to keep her keening. It didn’t take much longer for Trixie to start moaning with every lick, every touch, but then Katya felt her tongue back on her too, yelping in surprise, then further arousal.

“Oh my god.”

Trixie’s attention only encouraged her and she tried to mirror her actions despite their opposite angles. Trixie came almost as soon as Katya began to wiggle her tongue side to side on her clit but she barely took pause through it. Katya felt her body shake beneath her but she never broke contact, moaning more, it seemed, from how she was tending to Katya than from her own pleasure.

Katya titled her hips so her ass stuck out, gripped the covers in her sweating hands and gave herself over to Trixie. Trixie sat up, head propped against the pillow so Katya could see her when she turned back. She brought her hands to Katya’s hip and tugged her towards her so she could bury her face between her legs from behind. Katya drooped. Her forehead rested on her crossed forearms and she panted into thin air, amazed at how energetic Trixie was even after her own orgasm. She didn’t relent and, though it was slow coming, Katya climaxed for the second time, face scrunched against the mattress.

Later, once they had kissed and calmed and cooled, they lay on their sides, apart with Trixie facing Katya’s back. She was running her fingers up and down her spine, and Katya hummed with contentment.

“You really bring out something in me.” Trixie murmured, voice sleepy now her high (both kinds) had worn off.

“Yeah?” She prompted when Trixie didn’t immediately elaborate.

“It’s like I said, y’know, that wanting to look after someone. I guess it’s ‘cause I spend so much time removed from a lot of people and surrounded by others in a different way that, I dunno, maybe there’s a kind of intimacy I’ve been missing out on.”

“Maybe you’ve just generally come across better together women since you’ve worked on cruises. I’m probably the only nightmare ball of mental illness you’ve fucked.”

“I told you it’s nothing to do with thinking you’re a mess. You better not be going deaf in your old age, I’m not about to repeat myself all the damn time.” Trixie reached around to take a handful of her boob and squeezed as if to accentuate her point.

“Ok, ok, I heard you.”

“Good.” A kiss to the back of her neck, her shoulder, the back of her neck again. “Now listen to me sing to you as you fall asleep and know that I’m going to smother you in affection until you leave. You have no choice in the matter and I will get what I want.”

Katya huffed a laugh, almost choked on her heart surging up from inside the locked cage of her ribs. “You’ve got it, Trix.”

Chapter Text

At the sound of her alarm, Katya woke with a sudden realisation that everything from then until the day of her departure was a matter of urgency.

That morning, the ship had docked in Basseterre on the island of Saint Kitts and it was the last port of call before the final two days of the trip at sea. It was the last time her feet would touch a land that wasn’t ‘home’, the last time she would explore streets and beaches and paths unfamiliar, the last time she would come back onboard feeling suspended in a particular moment, no thought given to what would happen when it ran out, or to how she would have to go back to another reality. She was in a dream world, so removed from her responsibilities and the kind of existence she led back in LA. But it was also very real and tangible. Her view on things had changed and, maybe, could therefore change at home too.

She rolled over and faced Trixie, blinking awake and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Katya didn’t give her an opportunity to say good morning or to make a humorous comment like she was wont to do, depending on her mood and how she best saw fit for that day. Instead, Katya captured her face in her hands and held her, giving her one, long, harsh kiss before angling her head and licking across her lips, then up to part them. She slid her tongue against Trixie’s and pressed herself against her when she heard Trixie’s squeals of surprise turn to low, zealous moans.

They had very few minutes to spare, really, but Katya, with all the renewed gusto she possessed at such an early hour, disregarded such a consideration. Trixie was with her, against her, and she couldn’t fathom not making the most of it. She didn’t know if hooking up or, heaven forbid, dating would be something she wanted to explore straight away once she returned to LA. The amount of work she had to do on herself and to the business was sure to be extensive, monumental. Solitary.

And so she reached below the sheets they had become cocooned in during the night, parted Trixie’s labia and ran her fingers slowly up and down her cunt. She got her off, switching from massaging her clit to teasing her entrance to then stroking inside of her and starting all over again, not once breaking their kiss. With every sigh, every fevered exhale, their mouths became clumsier but were insistent, still, unrelenting.

Katya felt her own wetness seep out of her and guided Trixie to touch her. She was light and careful and Katya was grateful for the conversation they didn’t need to have, that because she wanted to give Trixie something of her for the day ahead, she was overly sensitive, couldn’t handle intensity, right then.

“What’s your schedule like today?” Katya asked from the bathroom afterwards, hurriedly making herself presentable. Her toothpaste dribbled down her chin as she spoke and she hastily splashed at her skin with too-hot water to get rid of it, toothbrush buzzing in her other bungling hand.

“Thankfully pretty chill until tonight. They usually give a lot of the acts some downtime the day before sea day, ‘cause that’s when it’s full steam ahead. And, y’know, with it being New Years and all, we’re pulling all the stops out later. Jan has it covered, I’m sure you can imagine.” Katya couldn’t see her from the mirror but she pictured Trixie pulling on her dressing gown and tidying the room so that, when her mom knocked on the door, she wasn’t met with an eyeful of their fornication.

She didn’t know where such a bout of bravery appeared from but she focussed on pulling on her tight as fuck sports bra (which was a workout in itself) and spraying her deodorant as she spoke, like what she was proposing was as normal as her other daily tasks. “Do you think you could escape and come along with my parents and I?”

The concerns of ‘what if she’s too tired?’ or ‘won’t that be awkward?’ or ‘isn’t that a bit much for a casual holiday fling, bitch?’ were cut short when Trixie appeared in the doorway, leaning against the frame with the side of her mouth upturned. Katya stopped in her rushed tracks and fought the urge to brush past her, write off what she had suggested as stupid, to be forgotten about.

“What time are you going ashore?” Trixie enquired and, when Katya told her, indicated that the only problem might be that her parents didn’t want Trixie tagging along on their last jaunt out as a family. “Make sure I’m not imposing, and then double and triple check, and then if they’re happy, I’m happy too.”

“Great!”

As soon as her mom knocked on her door, Katya blurted out her idea. It wasn’t at all tactful, especially as Trixie was lingering in the background, waving at her from a safe distance, but it didn’t cause too much trouble. Her mom was caught off guard, of course, and Katya apologised later for not waiting even one damn minute, for fuck’s sake, but her mom agreed and called over to Trixie, telling her she was looking forward to having her show them around, if she didn’t mind.

“I’ve been so many times, I know Saint Kitts like the back of my hand at this point. It’d be a pleasure.”

They agreed to meet by the big yellow building in the middle of Port Zante at ten, giving Trixie the time to sort herself out. It also ensured they weren’t seen by too many people, just in case it raised any suspicions from her colleagues.

“It’s really not a problem.” She reassured Katya again. “I just don’t want Jan trying to sniff out the gossip and it gives you guys time to have a look around the port too.”

Katya shot her a wink, blew her a kiss and left her in order to suffer emotionally and physically through a gym session in which her parents did not once shut the fuck up.

“You must really like her to be throwing her to the wolves like that.” Her dad joked, nudging her with his elbow before passing her some dumbbells. “No, it’s fine, I promise I won’t embarrass you.”

“Oh don’t even pretend like that’s likely.” Her mom chimed in.

If she wasn’t already straining from her bicep curls, Katya would have no doubt been grimacing from the potential humiliating childhood stories and general attempts from her dad at seeming cool. “Just...be normal. Well, our version of normal. Because, yes, ok, I like her and for some bizarre reason she likes me and we get on like a house - doused in gasoline - on fire. I want to enjoy what little time we all have left on this vacation so...yeah. Behave.”

“Of course, darling.” Her mom reassured. Her dad pulled a funny face in the mirror. Katya dropped her dumbbells to the floor and crouched to take several, desperate gulps of water from her bottle.

She didn’t have a clue what she was doing. But, then again, she was accepting that she never did and neither did anyone else, and she was trying her best so, ultimately, that was all that mattered. Plus, getting to hold Trixie’s hand on the beach was worth whatever mortifying anecdote her dad had up his sleeve.

Thinking all this over made her see what Trixie did with regards to her age and behaviour. Another perspective to add to the mix. She was experiencing things straight girls did in their teens and much more stable lesbians did in their twenties. And even then it wasn’t exactly right. She was a decade behind, if she were to measure herself by conventional expectations, and had never met a woman she had liked enough to take back to her parents’ place before, nor had she kept one around long enough for them to have had a proper chat with.

She tried not to mentally beat herself up on the walk back to her cabin. She opened her door and, where Trixie had once left a note asking if she had any toys, there was another piece of paper.

Katya unfolded it and read, “Calm down, whore. I know you’ll be freaking out right about now, even though you fucking suggested this. Everything will be fine just like the last time I met your parents. Your dad was CHARMED ok? His jokes are funny for a middle aged white man and your mom loves you so much that I’m pretty sure I could get my pussy out and pole dance on the street and she’d accept it because you’d be living for it. I’ve given you some ideas now, hey? See you soon xx P.S. We can’t kiss when the clock strikes twelve (lame anyway, right?) but you can watch me perform all night then take me to bed and I’ll perform my own little show for you…”

Katya beamed all the way through her shower (water in her mouth - no problem) and throughout breakfast, where she took two pastries to start and smiled back when her parents nodded approvingly. She laughed when her dad got a fleck of his own pastry stuck on his tooth and refused to sort it out until her mom did it for him. They were all immature asshats. Nobody could blame her. It was in her genes, it seemed.

Stepping onto the portside was a breath of fresh air, the morning sun still a little hazy, waiting patiently behind thin, grey clouds. Katya had tied her hair up and had clipped her fringe back so nothing was in her way. Her large black sunglasses hid almost her entire face but for her trademark red lips. Yes, she was a contradiction and that was what made her so absolutely, utterly fascinating, for sure. She had her bikini on underneath her clothes and belatedly realised it might not have been the wisest idea to wear makeup when she was due to end up in the sea. Practicality had never been her strong suit and she wasn’t about to start being sensible so late down the line.

The yellow building at the foot of the pier was impossible to miss. It’s domed roof and arched walkways beneath it stood as the gateway to a bustling square, jewellery shops and tour guide bureaus lining the perimeter. They were a couple of minutes early and so Katya led her parents closer to the building, listening to her dad explain what he had read about the colourful streets that lay ahead in their daily itinerary. Katya tried her best to pay attention (her mom wasn’t even bothering to pretend to be listening) but her eyes kept darting from face to face in the hopes of landing on Trixie’s.

When she did spot her, trotting across to them in her daytime finery, Katya had to cover her mouth to hide her smile like an old secret. Trixie’s giant, floppy sun hat, white t-shirt and tight floral miniskirt set her apart from most of the other visitors around her. Her hair was styled perfectly and her lips were a baby pink, lined and all.

“Katya, look, it’s your very own Polly Pocket.” Her dad teased, stepping forward to greet Trixie before Katya did, extending his hand and telling her how lovely it was to see her again, how glad he was she could join them.

“Thank you for letting me tag along.” She smiled, moving to kiss Katya’s mom’s cheek.

Katya didn’t quite know what was appropriate between them so she held out her hand for Trixie to take and squeezed it in a silent hello.

Trixie led them beyond Port Zante to Berkeley Memorial and up to the fountain in the middle of Independence Square. “In terms of European standards and expectations, there’s not much here. It’s quite startling sometimes to hear guests come to the Caribbean and then complain that there’s nothing to see. And, like, there’s a fort and an old manor house on the island here but I don’t really support those being considered as tourist destinations. It should be more, like, educational because that glorifies colonialism otherwise, doesn’t it?”

Katya squeezed her hand again. “It surely does.”

“You’re right there, Trixie. It’s certainly not something we think about enough, I don’t think. What do we get out of visiting a plantation when kids in school don’t even get taught what one is? Coming to these places shouldn’t be someone’s first introduction to this aspect of history. We’re all rather ignorant.” Katya glanced at her mom, sent her what she hoped looked like a grateful smile, and prayed that her dad didn’t begin to ‘play devil’s advocate’.

Trixie began setting out her plan for the day before he had any potential opportunity and they all hummed in agreement with her ideas.

Heading back to the Berkeley Memorial, Trixie pointed out how the surrounding road was the epicentre for taxis. She knew the best company, apparently, and got them a driver, negotiating a price for all of their journeys, which still ended up much cheaper than one of the tours run by the cruise.

Katya’s dad praised her bargaining and paid for all of them, refusing her offers of compensation. “You’re the guest, today.” He said.

They all got into the car, Katya in the back wedged between her mom and Trixie. She listened as conversation flowed easily around her. Trixie never once let go of her hand, stroking her thumb across Katya’s knuckles.

Their first stop was to the Saint Kitts Scenic Railway, an early twentieth century train which journeyed from its station through untouched farmland and small towns. Trixie told the taxi driver when to come back and meet them and jumped out in an attempt to buy the tickets before Katya’s dad could. She wasn’t successful, to her chagrin, but it was endearing and Katya whispered how sweet she was in her ear as they waited on the platform.

“You get a couple of free drinks on here, I think, and there’s a guide who explains everything. It’s a great way to see as much of the island as possible in such a short time.” Trixie added, once she had rubbed Katya’s side.

As the train came into the platform, the crowd that had gathered beside them took photos. It had a covered bottom deck and an open top deck, which Katya’s dad automatically aimed for. Luckily, they all managed to get a seat on the carriage at the far end of the train and Katya sat close to Trixie, their bare legs pressed together. As the guide introduced the details of the journey and the history of the train (dating back to 1912), Trixie leant into Katya and quietly teased her for acting so reserved.

“I’m saving all my noise for tonight.” She quipped with an overt wink. That satisfied Trixie for the time being.

The train travelled through villages, through lush greenery and overhanging trees that scratched the canopy above their heads, passed schools and pastel coloured houses, and trudged happily along coastal tracks, inaccessible any other way. Katya watched the sea, blue and active, rise and fall against jagged rocks. She spotted deserted beaches hidden away from the mainland as she listened to the guide explain how the train was initially used to transport sugar cane from the island’s plantations to the sugar factory in the capital city.

It took roughly three hours to complete the thirty mile circle around the island. Katya savoured every second, peering up at Mount Liamuiga, down at cliffs and abandoned, old windmills and chimneys dotting the grassy landscape. Trixie didn’t steal her attention like she might have assumed. Instead, she was the constant beside her, offering her other tidbits of information, an ear for her exclamations, a forearm for her to grab when something especially stood out to her. And how she slotted into her family’s dynamic was seamless, so much so that by the end of the journey, all notions of absurdity were quashed, left underneath the steel bridges the train had run over.

Their driver was waiting for them once they had left the station. Trixie told him to go to Timothy Hill Overlook.

“It’s a great spot, high up. You can get some amazing photos. I once saw a lesbian couple get engaged up there.”

“Aww, that’s adorable. Katya, take note, hey?” Her mom jibed.

“Oh my god.” She planted her face in her hands, suddenly overly aware of being in the middle of her mom and Trixie, and certainly very enclosed by one of them.

It was a short ride there, less than ten minutes, and Trixie entertained Katya’s parents with stories from previous times she had visited Saint Kitts. “The first time here, there were monkeys all over the place, like, on the streets around Independence Square. I think there was a guy who owned them all and tried to make money off of tourists taking photos with them. Anyway, I made the mistake of buying some food from a stall and eating it out in the open. Holy shit, I’ve never thrown a bunch of fries as far or as fast as I did that day. Never again. Never again.”

The early afternoon sunshine was blazing, highlighting the views of the rest of the island from the overlook. There, they could see right down to the tail end of Saint Kitts, its hills cut into by winding roads. Salt ponds stuck out like missing jigsaw pieces and their dark waters contrasted the light blue of the sea on the opposite side of the land, to Katya’s left. A beach stretched, empty and enticing, and Trixie told them, though it wasn’t the one she planned on taking them to, that it was also very calm, yet too hard to reach.

“It’s beautiful up here. You two, stand together. I want some pictures.” Katya’s mom directed her and Trixie into the optimal position. They wrapped their arms around each other and smiled, though Katya no doubt appeared manic from how uncomfortable her expression felt. “Katya stop doing that, act natural.” Her mom ordered. Suspicions confirmed.

Katya stuck her tongue out at her mom but shook out her limbs and faced Trixie instead of the lens, smiling up at her and whispering how wonderful the day had been so far, how much of a star Trixie was.

“I’m having a blast too. Genuinely. Your folks are the kind of parents I wish I had.”

It was cheesy as fuck and she felt almost as lame as the lesbian couple who had decided to pop the question in the very same spot (dear god, get some taste, she thought), but she cupped Trixie’s cheek and kissed her and enjoyed the minute reprieve of bliss before her dad wolf whistled and her mom kept repeating how gorgeous they looked. She stuck out her middle finger just as her mom was about to take the last photo and, once she had checked the camera, determined that that one was her favourite, much to her parents’ annoyance.

Their last stop was a secluded beach further down south, the only building near it a pricey restaurant, complete with pool and loungers. Trixie had never been to it but Katya’s dad offered to take them all once they had had enough sun, sea and sand.

“Alright, on the condition that I foot the bill. You guys have been too kind already.” Trixie said as she led them down the grassy pathway to the beach. It was completely deserted, the water clear and gentle, the surrounding hills protective in their seclusion. The sand wasn’t as pure as Katya had enjoyed on other beaches, seaweed and dried moss lining where the waves reached up but couldn’t get any further, pulled back by their own tide.

The afternoon heat wrapped itself around Katya’s body, too close for comfort. They all put down beach towels and settled onto the sands. Katya took off her other layers and watched Trixie do the same from behind her dark lenses, and, after a while lying down side by side to sunbathe, they decided to get into the water together. Katya’s mom was already walking up and down the shoreline and so they left her dad to look after their stuff.

“Race you.” Trixie bumped her hip against Katya’s once they had stood.

Katya grinned. “On the count of three. One, two—”

“Get fucked!” Trixie interrupted, setting off before Katya could admonish her.

They sprinted into the water, splashes loud and excitable up against their legs, their torsos as they went deeper and deeper. Katya grabbed Trixie’s hand just as she tripped on the seabed and slipped under the surface, dragging Katya with her. Katya closed her eyes, felt the cool wash over her face like a calming caress and blindly wrapped her arms around Trixie’s bare body, the bump of where she had tied her bikini top nudging against her breast bone.

She clung to Trixie, held her breath, let the peace of stillness - the absence of noise in and around her - wash over her. She entertained the thought of remaining exactly where she was, even once Trixie had swum up and out again. It hadn’t been the first time she had considered drowning. The difference, amongst the clarity, the darkness of depth, was that now she wanted to preserve how she felt, the near-perfection, not suffocate her feelings by wiping them out. It was her own kind of memento.

Trixie wriggled out of her hold and pulled her up, chin bobbing against the rhythmic undulations of the sea. Trixie gasped, flicked water at her for keeping her down so long and panted. Katya didn’t shoot her a comeback. She encircled her instead and kissed her silent, conscious of the sounds filtering their way back, the movement of life outside of her own. Katya captured Trixie’s mouth, captured the tranquility of embracing her, of being welcomed.

Trixie broke it first, telling Katya to get on her back, taking her further to the left where one of the hills rose right out of the water. Katya kicked her legs to help them along, too, but was content to place her hands on Trixie’s shoulders, kiss the back of her head every now and then until they could touch the rocks, her hair tasting of salt, smelling of something else.

There, Katya let go of Trixie and explored the edges, the roughness of the hillside, commenting on how dangerous it felt compared to the delicacy of the tepid sea. With her back to the rock, she grabbed on to it so she didn’t have to keep herself afloat and looked towards the sands, to where her mom had returned and appeared to be dozing next to her dad.

“The coast is clear.” She joked, nodding towards her parents so Trixie could figure out what she meant.

“What are you suggesting?” Trixie swam towards her, found different jagged parts to tether herself to.

“Nothing. I mean, if I happened to take off your bikini right now, no one else would see. You’re hidden and I really wanna see those fuckin’ titties float.” Her thick Boston accent made an intentional comeback as she leered at Trixie, wiggling her tongue from side to side outside of her mouth.

Trixie cackled, fell short of flinging her head back for obvious fear of hitting it and so kicked her legs towards Katya instead. Katya let go of the rocks, swam in between Trixie’s spread thighs and kissed her when she wrapped them around her waist to keep her in place. Katya ran her fingers down from Trixie’s throat to her chest, to the crevice of her cleavage. Then, she trailed her hand around to her back, grabbing on to the string of her top and tugging. It wasn’t enough to untie it, but she smirked as it loosened, Trixie’s breasts resting in a more natural position, less pushed up.

Katya undid the double bow and watched as the cups of Trixie’s bikini drifted away from her. She reached up to take the whole thing off from Trixie’s neck and scrunched it in her fist so she didn’t lose it to the tide (that would have been more humiliating than anything her parents could have done to her). The water distorted her view but Trixie pushed out her chest and raised herself up so it gushed down her front, dripping from her nipples until Katya couldn’t hold back any longer. She lowered herself so her face was beneath Trixie’s underboob, stuck out her tongue to catch the last drops of sea water then licked upwards, over her nipple before sucking on it, ridding the salt from Trixie’s puckered skin.

With her free hand, she rolled Trixie’s other nipple in between her index and middle finger, feeling it harden. Trixie exhaled and encouraged Katya to go further. “Can’t believe you’re doing this here.” She sighed, trembling from having to keep in position. “Fuck, take everything off of me.”

Katya smirked against Trixie’s damp skin, trailing the flat of her palm down her stomach, down beneath the waistband of her bottoms. She slid her fingers against her clit and felt her shudder from being exposed to the chill of the water as well as the warmth of Katya’s touch. Katya didn’t linger, taking off her bikini as efficiently as she could. It was too much material to keep in her grasp and so she flung both items further up the rock and hoped they’d remain there, hung on a slight protrusion.

Trixie shuffled so she could tilt her pelvis, rub her pubic hair against Katya’s stomach and crush her between her thighs as tight as she could manage. Katya’s breath got stuck in her lungs and Trixie took the opportunity to slip her tongue between her parted lips. They kissed and kissed and kissed until Trixie was trying desperately to rut against Katya, any part of her, to no avail.

“Please, please.” She whispered against her mouth, as if they weren’t all alone.

Katya brought her fingers back down between her legs, massaging her clit until Trixie could no longer function. She pressed their foreheads together and told Trixie to keep her eyes open, keep looking at her until the very end. Just as Katya could detect the tell tale signs of an orgasm in wait, she spotted the droop of Trixie’s bikini out of the corner of her eye and miraculously caught it as it fell. Her sudden jolt splashed Trixie. She yelped, but was glad of Katya’s deftness, thanking her for saving her from the most almighty walk of shame.

Katya, now completely riled up, tied the damn thing to Trixie’s arm (inventive as ever) and dove right back in, kissing her hungrily, her tongue ravenous and searching, her fingers determined, vigorous, slick from an added wetness. Trixie moaned with every press against her tenderest parts and came, submerging them both beneath the water, unable to hold on anymore.

Katya sank, separated from Trixie for what felt like the first time in an entire age. She tried to open her eyes, the sting and blur a temporary barrier, and blinked until her vision became clearer. Then she could see Trixie with her legs in a wide starfish position showcasing her swollen, pink cunt. Katya manoeuvred3 her own useless body - still shell shocked by what they had done - and swam up to grab Trixie’s ass so she could kiss over her clit and flick her tongue out to overstimulate her, causing her to thrash.

“You fucking—” Trixie began to rant as Katya came up for air.

Katya smothered her in kisses, shutting her up in the most effective way she knew how, and was rewarded with Trixie returning the favour, pushing her back against the rocks and getting her off with the slap of waves against them.

Once Trixie put her bikini back on, they swam back around to the open sea and towards the shoreline. Katya couldn’t account for how long they’d disappeared for but her parents were sitting up and chatting by the time they greeted them.

They dried off and pulled their clothes back on, lopsided and sticky now. Katya took the last of her makeup off with a spare wipe her mom had in her bag. Her mom gave Trixie one too without her asking. Katya watched her hand it over like Trixie had always been around. She knew she could rely on her for things other people forgot. Katya pulled herself out of her reverie, adjusted her sunglasses and followed everyone else towards the restaurant.

As it was mid afternoon and they didn’t want to spoil their dinner, Katya and her parents ordered more drinks than food and shared their snacks altogether. Trixie ordered a main course and dessert as she needed to keep her energy up for the big night ahead, explaining everything that she would have to do once she got back onboard. Katya responded in her head, a silent cheeky comment about being responsible for wearing her out, whilst her parents asked Trixie questions about the ship’s entertainment team and who decides on doing what.

Sail away was scheduled for five and they thankfully managed to get on board with fifteen minutes to spare. When they had got out of the taxi near the port, Trixie had rushed ahead to get to crew quarters, to shower and prepare for her performance. She had thanked Katya’s parents profusely and kissed Katya’s cheek, telling her she would see her later.

Katya was exhausted once she and her parents got into the elevator up to their deck.

“Thank you for being so wonderful.” She yawned, leaning her head against her dad’s shoulder.

“It was great, honestly. You know we don’t mince our words. Trixie’s a real gem and you two look very happy in each other’s company.” Her mom patted her arm. They got out and parted ways and Katya flopped onto her bed for a power nap, the light shining through her balcony doors and the recollected sound of Trixie’s voice submerging her, pulling her under.

-

The deck was decorated with streamers, flags, disco balls and flashing, coloured lights. Katya peered up at the night sky, to where a dozen stars appeared as if flung across an otherwise black canvas. Her hair tangled in the breeze. She had to tuck it behind her ears, her tresses fanning out wide beyond her shoulders. She walked with her parents up to one of the bars where a queue was forming, barely a space to navigate into, the whole place packed with people to celebrate the oncoming new year. It was all very bittersweet and the grandiosity of the festivities around her forced her to face a few truths (half truths and the lies she had told herself previously).

She ordered champagne and stared at her glass. She recalled how she would have gotten through a week by drinking each night. Not quite enough to raise suspicion, to signpost to others or even to herself that there was an obvious problem, but a few glasses when she slunk back in from work, sometimes a substitute for dinner, sometimes the lesser of two evils when all she desired was to knock herself out. It was dependent. But, in the midst of her worst despair, having a few drinks was certainly not the most terrible thing about the whole situation. Nothing could top the unrelenting guilt of letting herself and the whole company down.

Her parents were arguing about where best to position themselves to see the events scheduled for the party that night. Katya barely heard them. She had never taken New Years seriously before, thinking it all idiotic to believe anything would really change just because the date did, to set resolutions that no doubt ninety percent of people didn’t stick to. There was a pressure, nonetheless - external or internal, she couldn’t determine right then - to confront the past year with a resolve to view the upcoming one with new eyes. A better outlook.

What if she couldn’t get better, when she got back? Defeat, she thought, could tempt her to destruction just as effectively as her own liability once did.

God, was she a party pooper or what.

The ship’s singers and dancers put on a show that Katya hardly saw, a mixture of sequins and coloured feathers and screeching theatrical vocals. She was vaguely aware of stepping side to side in what she presumed was good time with the music, and laughing vacantly at a joke her dad cracked at the lead singer’s expense. So much responsibility, to herself and others, clung to her like a tight, damp t-shirt. She didn’t want it but she also didn’t want to give it all up anymore, either. That was something, she figured.

Trixie came on just after ten, smiling at the audience first before settling her gaze upon Katya, expression softening from performative to emotive. It was beautiful to witness. Katya smiled back and it didn’t feel taut on her face. She rolled her shoulders once Trixie got started and agreed when her parents commented on how pretty Trixie looked.

Katya told them that she and Trixie were meeting up after her set.

“I’m sure you’ll have a lovely evening.” Her mom glanced a little nervously at her father. “Katya, I don’t want to be a buzzkill, believe me, but have you thought about what’ll happen at the end of the cruise? Have you two even talked about it yet?”

Katya sighed, short and contained. “No, we’ve not. What is there to happen? I’m leaving and she’s staying and working. It is what is it, right?”

Her mom nodded. “Of course, darling. Just make sure she’s on the same page, ok? If it has to end here then you need to end on a high, not a low.”

She knew it, had known from the very beginning, that first night with Trixie. Their time was limited and Trixie needed to be told, so there wasn’t any room for doubt. It still wasn’t easy to hear.

Her parents made a gallant effort to keep her spirits up after such a conversation and, once she had downed a few more glasses of champagne, Katya’s head was fuzzy and unfocussed. She flitted from staring adoringly at Trixie, (badly) singing along to a song she recognised and dancing with her mom or dad, depending on the kind of music playing. She laughed at Trixie’s jokes and winked at her in the quiet moments when she took a sip of water or waited for her bandmate to tune his guitar. Everything spun like plates on practicing fingers. But her eyes always fell to Trixie, miraculously sturdy.

Katya held her mom’s hand as she shouted the countdown to midnight. Katya remained silent, watching Trixie hype everyone up further, and fought the urge to flee.

“Five, four,” Trixie exclaimed into her microphone, “Three, two, one. Happy new year!”

Party poppers shot out their streamers and confetti fell from god knows where, covering the makeshift dance floor and all who were on it with multicoloured wings of paper. Trixie struck up another song and Katya turned up her palms to catch the last of the confetti twirling down. Eventually, the air cleared and she was left standing with her hands outstretched in Trixie’s direction, everything slipping through her parted fingers.

“Happy new year.” Her dad echoed, pulling her in for a hug and a kiss to the forehead. Her mom did the same, though pecked her cheek and wiped the marks of her lipstick away with a drunken laugh. Katya turned to Trixie once she had thanked them. She mouthed her well wishes to her and promptly stumbled to the bar to get another drink, slouching onto her forearms as she waited for her champagne.

She heard it before she felt it, even above Trixie’s rendition of I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters. The crash of rain on wood, on bodies. It was torrential, so sudden and gushing that everyone surrendered to it, didn’t run for cover, screaming in delight and dancing even more so. Making her way back to her parents, getting soaked to the bone in an instant, she saw men take off their tuxedo jackets and women their shoes, stepping on the confetti now leaking their colours onto the deck floor.

Trixie valiantly kept on performing, slightly shaded from the onslaught, and Katya finished off her drink, took her parents hands and danced and danced and danced as the rain washed everything away.

She leant back, mouth wide open in her hysteria, and let out a long, releasing cheer. With her fringe plastered to her forehead and her makeup running down her face and her dress becoming see-through from how drenched it was, Katya shrieked, scrunching her eyes closed, her tears mixing with the rain and overflowing until they ran out.

Chapter Text

Her dress left sodden trails down the hallway, dampening the carpet. Trixie was mere metres behind her, laughing at how it looked like she was pissing herself with every step. She wasn’t much better and Katya reminded her so with a drowsy grin, her tipsiness easing off into a loose lethargy. She opened her cabin door, slumping against it as she let Trixie past and huffed a laugh at herself, at how she imagined she looked.

“I’m gonna order a few drinks and some food. I don’t know what it is about that Dolly medley I do but it really tires me out. I’m starving now.”

“Poor you.” Katya cooed, kicking off her shoes to go wash her face. She couldn’t give Trixie her midnight kiss while still looking like she did - black tears staining her cheeks, dipping beneath her chin and mixing with the bleed of her lipstick. She ran her hair through one of her towels and tied it up before taking her dress off and leaving it partially hanging over the sink, dripping on to the marble countertop and the bathroom tiles.

She came back to Trixie perched on her bed, phone in hand, sounding off her requests. Rounding her mouth as she exclaimed a rather adorable ‘oh!’ into the receiver, she nearly forgot to ask if Katya wanted anything. Katya shook her head, stopped herself from saying, “Just you, right now.” It would have been a little unfair of her, she bit her lip and thought to herself, sitting down beside Trixie as she thanked whoever was on the other end of the line.

“You had your fill of the bubbly stuff then?” Trixie teased, knowing full well. She had seen her sloppy dancing. Katya wondered if she had caught the moment she had let everything pour down on her, what she thought of her then. Or if she had been saved from being perceived in such a moment by the distraction of a couple of men getting into the showers by the pool, fully clothed, claiming it was drier in there.

“I’ve ordered a bottle for me, anyway, if you want any more.”

Katya honed in on the tangle of Trixie’s damp curls, one stuck on the decoration of her necklace. She hooked it out with her finger. “I’ve had enough, I think. I don’t want to see another drink for six months after this cruise.”

“You say that now…” A knock at the door. Trixie darted up to answer. Katya held on to her shoulder with her opposite hand, kneading it, frowning. Trixie sauntered back, picking up the conversation where she left off. “But don’t you want to share a sip with me?”

Trixie waved the bottle of Bollinger (no doubt selected for her benefit) in her face, the glass she was holding clinking against it. She didn’t wait for Katya’s response, popping the cork, licking up the foam as it erupted over the neck and pouring herself a generous amount. With evident self-satisfaction, Trixie straddled Katya, sat her in her lap and took a swig. Katya gazed up at her, temptation incarnate. “If you insist.”

Instead of swallowing, Trixie curled her finger around Katya’s chin and tilted her face towards her. Katya’s lips parted, natural and unthinking, and her breath hitched when Trixie mirrored her, directing the champagne dribbling from her mouth into Katya’s. It wasn’t a perfect aim, some spilling down to land on her chest. That was what Katya liked so much, however.

She swallowed, tried to seek out the taste of Trixie amongst the alcohol. “Fuck.”

“More?” Trixie asked, all coquettish.

“More.”

Katya waited for Trixie to take another sip before surging up and kissing her, drinking her in. She pushed her hands up Trixie’s back, grappled at her clothing, tugging forcefully. She slid her tongue against Trixie’s, swallowed down the champagne that had got into her mouth and kissed her deeper as if hankering after the very last drop. It wasn’t long before all of Trixie’s first glass was gone.

Katya didn’t let her pour another, stripping her and pushing her to lie on top of the sheets. Katya took off her own underwear and kissed up from Trixie’s ankles, beyond her shins and knees and thighs, the side of her stomach, her sternum, her breasts, along her collar bones, stopping to bite her shoulder, nibble on her earlobe. And then she kissed her the way she wouldn’t have dared to at the end of a New Year’s countdown. The way that denoted illimitable opportunity, beyond a chance encounter.

They fucked, rough and careful all the same. Katya saw it as a ceremony, a commemoration. Their time wasn’t up but Katya pretended as if it was, clinging to Trixie’s back, kissing out her frustrations, her means of honoring the unpredictable, what would impact her beyond the confines of her cabin walls.

She eventually let Trixie finish off what she had ordered then tucked herself in underneath the bed covers. Whilst Trixie was in the bathroom, Katya stared up at the ceiling, recollections of the trip projecting onto the blank panels above her. Their day in Saint Kitts had been incredible and she couldn’t quite believe how well Trixie had handled spending so much time with her parents.

Each island had given her a glimmer of something different, perhaps even hope. Light. She thought about Hunte’s Gardens, about how she saw herself there, the time she had truly considered herself more than a wreckage.

Trixie cuddled up to her, nosing at her still-drying hair, her cheek.

“Have you been places and felt, like, a deep, uh, familiarity? Not in the place overall, not like, like a whole island or city. But you’ve seen something when visiting a landmark or a piece of art work or even just, I dunno, even just a thing. And you feel akin to it, or even its total opposite. Like, it's an inanimate object and you’re staring at it like, ah, you see me. D’you know what I mean?”

“Have you been tucking into my stash?” Trixie kissed her pulse point, a self-aware acknowledgement of her own facetiousness. “Yeah, I suppose I have, but not consciously...Now you’ve asked me I’m like, oh. Like today, when we were looking out over the island and each part looked different to the others but they still fit into the whole of it overall. Yeah, that. Whatever that says about me.”

Katya smiled into the darkness, where Trixie couldn’t see, told her about Hunte’s Gardens, about other aspects of her trip that she had wanted to share with Trixie to see if she felt similarly or differently, not exactly to live out those moments together.

“Charming. You didn’t want me there, just say it, bitch.” Trixie jested.

Katya wrapped her arms around her, held her as tightly as she held her breath, like she used to before she dived into her swimming pool as a child, the height of the board seemingly hundreds of feet above the water. She wasn’t ready to jump. Maybe there wasn’t a right time to discuss where they stood with each other but her instincts told her that moment wasn’t it. And so she slipped into their shared silence, to comfort once more.

-

She met her parents at their door to go to breakfast. They had thankfully all agreed that they were due a day off the gym (Katya was aching in so many ways, in so many places) and they yawned their way down to the restaurant, praising the deck party and how the rain had made it even better, against all odds. Her parents didn’t ask what she and Trixie got up to afterwards, sparing her that for they no doubt knew exactly what. Katya swallowed, the taste of champagne still at the back of her tongue.

Trixie had informed her that she was performing an acoustic set in the afternoon. Katya led her parents to some empty sunbeds on the Lido deck, though she couldn’t find any that faced where Trixie would later set up. Looking forward to a day of lying down, Katya stripped to her bikini (the red one - she had to treat Trixie to such a sight again), applied more sunblock to her shoulders then flopped onto her front. She held up her end of the conversation with her parents for, perhaps, quarter of an hour and then drifted off, the previous night catching up to her.

Lunch at Oceanview Cafe was busy and Katya and her mom linked arms, passing put-out comments to each other as her dad got unnecessarily annoyed. She loaded her plate with salads and couscous and a little bit of everything she fancied. Her mom had a glass of wine to toast in the new year (yet again) but Katya, afraid that one sip of champagne - even prosecco - would send her spiralling into a very unbecoming state (apparently she was a fucking horndog now, thanks to Trixie), ordered iced tea instead. She tucked into a selection of bite size desserts and wondered if Trixie was napping in her cabin or facetiming Kim to update her. She wondered what she herself would have been doing in Trixie’s position.

The period before Trixie’s show began was spent sipping chilled sodas, listening to music and her neglected audiobooks (falling asleep to them, more like), and admiring her no-longer-flat stomach. Gripping stuff, indeed, but Katya enjoyed this downtime and was able to unwind and appreciate it now without an awaiting worry about whether her depressive episodes would interrupt the peace.

She stretched out, relishing in the click of her spine, and accepted her dad’s offer of getting in some cocktails. Her mom took advantage of his absence to rant about how he had bothered her during the night and Katya nodded along, humouring her, adding a few remarks here and there. Once he had returned and she had enjoyed the first taste of her pina colada, Trixie’s voice rang out over the speakers.

“Good afternoon everyone. I hope there aren’t too many sore heads out there and that you’re taking advantage of your drinks packages while you still can. I’ll be with you until five, decidedly not making a racket because, well, I’m feeling tender as well. I think working on a cruise is one of the few places you can admit to being rough on the job and it be socially acceptable. Happy new year, everyone! Let’s start this off with some good ol’ Shania Twain.”

Her country take on the hit showed off the unconventional manner of gentleness to her voice, her ability to reinterpret a well known song and make it into something new, give it a different feeling. Katya closed her eyes and smiled, picturing Trixie amusing herself by singing about men not impressing her, her audience completely unaware of her Huge Fuckin’ Dyke status. Katya, satisfied that Trixie was very much impressed by her, hummed along to the final chorus and clapped when the song ended.

“Alright! Thank you. So, as it’s New Years, I think it’s a good time to sing about love. Now, usually, I like to sing about murder and hatred...I’m just kidding. Oh my god, I’m kidding! This gentleman up front here looked like he was about to call the cops on me. Sir, rest assured, I have only engaged in petty crimes. Like, I stole some sweets from the grocery store when I was eight, ok? I’m human! Don’t turn me in!”

The crowd chuckled. Katya heard a few of the man’s friends or relatives heckle him.

“Wow, that went somewhere dark. As I was saying, now’s the time to sing about love. This is one of my favourite songs of all time. This is The Look Of Love by Dusty Springfield.”

Katya sank into her lounger with every line Trixie crooned. Her voice was vulnerable and real. Katya had thought the song cheesy beforehand but, with Trixie covering it, she could hear the desperation behind the soft tone, the deceptive intensity when she sang, “Now that I have found you, don't ever go, don't ever go. I love you so.”

Katya vowed to get her back for making her feel things. “Fuck.” She cursed to herself, at herself.

The rest of her set was not as gut-wrenching, though there were moments when Katya dreamed Trixie was singing right to her, despite not seeing her, despite not knowing for sure if she was there. She performed as if she did and Katya cherished every note, treated them like gifts. Other people might have bought trinkets from the islands they had visited, sent postcards or sampled local produce to take back home. Katya’s keepsakes were Trixie’s songs. She would no doubt forget the melodies or the exact tempo, weeks down the line, but their temporality made them all the more special. How they would evolve in Katya’s mind would be an homage, she decided.

“We’re coming to the end of the set,” Trixie announced, “Yes, I know, I’m heartbroken too.”

Katya jolted up to sitting, not having realised how late in the day it was getting. She asked her parents if they wanted anything to drink and, when they said no (no doubt wise to what she was doing by now), shoved on her slides, pushed her sunglasses up onto the top of her head and made her way down the stairs to the bar near where Trixie was performing.

Snaking in between the groups of people lingering around, Katya quickly put her order in, barely glancing the bartender's way, too enraptured in getting to see Trixie all dolled up, doing her thing. It didn’t seem like the previous night had happened, the deck cleaned to perfection, remaining decorations nowhere to be seen. The excitement inside her at laying eyes on Trixie was just as rabid as the first time she got to speak to her in the very spot she was standing in right then.

“I feel like we’ve all recovered as much as possible by now so let’s end this on a high note - not literally though, I do not have that range, unlike your wonderful entertainment’s officer, Jan.” Katya laughed as Trixie pointed to her, where she was beaming at the crowd from the side, waving, and mimicked singing like Mariah Carey. Katya held her sweating coke can to cool her chest and wedged herself in between two couples nearer to the stage.

Trixie finally saw her and grinned, wide and dazzling. “Thank you for being such a great audience. I’m Trixie Mattel and you can see me again from ten fifteen in the sky lounge tonight. Here’s The Beautiful South’s beautiful song, Rotterdam Or Anywhere. Thank you.”

Katya cheered and clapped as best she could whilst holding her drink. Trixie winked at her before counting herself in and beginning to play the sliding notes on her guitar. Katya bobbed her head in time with the music and grinned until the very end, the joyous repetition of ‘alone’. She didn’t dare seriously consider it, that Trixie had chosen that song for her, for them, but she tucked the notion away, anyway - another souvenir.

Jan had Trixie cornered for a while. Katya couldn’t hear what they were discussing but huffed a laugh to herself at how Jan flipped her hair and put her hand on her hip as she spoke, her highlight glittering in the setting sun. She was about to give up and rush back to her parents, who were likely waiting for her, when Jan stepped aside, took to the mic and did a whole run down of the night’s activities.

Katya darted over to the side of the stage, quashing her natural proclivity to squeeze Trixie’s arm or hug her. “Not bad, baby!” She exclaimed instead.

Trixie rolled her eyes at her silliness but her smile betrayed her. “Thanks. I’ll see you after, yeah? I’ve gotta dash and eat and get ready and, oh my god, Kim’s finally got a girlfriend so I need to get the details on that shocking turn of events.”

“I agree.” Katya nodded, seriously, “There is pertinent information you are missing out on.”

“Shut up!” Trixie squawked, fiddling with her guitar case. “Ok, imagine I’m giving you a quick kiss before I flee into the night.”

“Sure. Lovely! Imagine I’m giving you a cursed figurine from colonial times and you have to solve the mystery of its former owner. How did she die, Trixie? Only you can uncover the truth.”

Katya wheezed, laughing so the end of her sentence blended into it. Trixie shook her head. “Oh my god.”

That’s how she left her and, Katya thought, it was almost as good as a kiss would have been. Making Trixie laugh was her personal display of affection.

Her parents, as she expected, asked her how Trixie was as soon as she reappeared. They had sat up and packed their bags, ready to go back to their cabins once Katya rejoined them and so she hurriedly got her own shit together and walked with them.

Inside her stateroom, she showered and pranced around, coming up with ideas for her outfit. She’d somehow neglected perhaps the most outlandish piece she’d brought - a custom made red, sequin mini dress with pink layered organza trims to its one-shouldered neckline and hem. Her friend Andrew had crafted it for her a couple of years previously for an event. She teamed it with purple tights and her glittery Louboutin boots and tied some of her hair up in a deranged half ponytail. She looked crazy. She looked like herself again.

Once she’d finished her makeup, she had some time to spare and so took way too many selfies befitting someone her age. She stepped out onto her balcony, phone in hand, and tried to take a picture of the moon shimmering above the sea. It didn’t come out at all like how it looked in real life. She sat down, flicking through her pictures, and realised she hadn’t taken any of Trixie. Her mom had the staged, posey ones of them, yes, but those were through her lens, not Katya’s.

After dinner and some downtime at the bar reading, Katya met up with her parents outside the theatre and went to the sky lounge to watch Trixie’s show. Settling into her seat on the outskirts to the left of the dance floor, Katya ordered her drink, swapped observations about fellow guests with her mom and laughed at her dad chipping in.

She was going to miss the routine she had established, both with her family and with Trixie. She didn’t know if she could spend the rest of her days in the same way, whether there was a limit to how much leisure and indulgence she could partake in before she ultimately got confined by that too. Part of her wanted to find out, to dash straight to guest relations and see if she could book herself on the next departure, relive the trip all over again. Part of her was actually rather excited to see if her break away had had a lasting impact and would alter how she coped back home, too.

Throughout the show, Trixie sent surreptitious glances Katya’s way, kept up their game of cheekily winking when the other was watching and what they thought were sneaky, wordless conversations. Her parents didn’t miss it, now they knew to look. Katya’s dad elbowed her every now and then, trying to embarrass her. Trixie saw and smiled and Katya wondered how she’d been so lucky to come across someone like her, so unexpectedly.

Her parents got up and slow-danced to Trixie’s cover of Joan Armatrading’s Love And Affection, which gave Katya the chance to really centre her attention on Trixie without being conscious of anyone else observing her. Even with her acoustic guitar strapped to her, Trixie still swayed loosely, free, raising her voice to sing, “Give me love, give me love.” The guys in her band backed her well but Katya forgot they were there for how Trixie stole the whole room’s focus, not just hers.

For her next song, Trixie swapped back to her electric Fender. “Ok, we’ve had some mush there and, while it was lovely to see you all being sickeningly romantic, I think it’s time for a little more sauce. I want everyone on the floor giving me their best air guitars. Everyone. Yes, especially you, Miss Flying Fairy.”

Trixie pointed at Katya, at the ridiculousness of her outfit. Katya screamed, jumping up and leading her parents to the floor too, spinning with her arms outstretched like wings.

The opening bars of Call Me by Blondie filled the room, louder than any of the other music had. Trixie and her guitarist duetted the intro, facing each other and leaning backwards and forwards in time with the succession of notes they played together. Trixie sang Debbie Harry’s lyrics in a lower register and, in Katya’s ears, sounded even sexier, adding a richness, a honeyed, sultry quality to the original’s overtness.

Katya, emboldened by Trixie singling her out, danced, wild and unrestrained, mixing her verging-on-slapstick careless movements, loose limbs whizzing here, there and everywhere, with a purposeful shake of her hips, gliding her hands over her growing curves and whipping her hair so it came loose from its tie.

Her parents had given her space but her mom held her hand to twirl with her and laugh when she tripped over her own heels. Katya’s boots were stuffy and uncomfortable but gave her the height she needed to be a head above the rest of the people around her. Unsurprisingly, her dad didn’t let the song end without fooling around. She cackled, scarcely audible over Trixie and her band, and swatted at his arm, pretending to be well and truly done with him.

“Wow, thank you to everyone who came up here tonight. I think you were the ones putting on a show, not us.” The crowd cheered and clapped, many more people still standing than Katya had noticed previously, the urge to have as good a time for as long as possible evident in their insistence to see the night through. Trixie put down her guitar and counted her band in, and Katya spent what remained of the show pretending she was dancing with Trixie, even though she didn’t recognise what she was performing, even though her imagination only stretched so far.

There were a stream of others clamouring to speak with Trixie at the end of her set. Trixie signalled to Katya to go and Katya nodded, accompanying her parents back to their cabin. She wished them goodnight and retreated into her room, tugging down the zipper of her dress as soon as the door closed behind her. She slipped off her boots more carefully, conscious of all the glitter, and rolled down her tights so she was just in her underwear. She had forgone a bra. She itched underneath her boobs where they were sweaty and beginning to feel heavy. Her vacation had been perfect timing in her cycle but now she was feeling the signs of an upcoming ‘red scare’.

“Just take my uterus. I don't need it, nor do I want it.” She huffed to no one. It was as good a proof as any that god didn’t exist, wasting his creation on a raging dyke with absolutely no intention of adding to the world’s overpopulation.

At the mirror, taking off her makeup, she wondered if Trixie wanted children, what kind of considerations she had made as a lesbian navigating what was expected of women versus what was actually desired. She felt like she had a billion questions for her and scant opportunity for Trixie to answer them, if she even wanted to.

She had to wait a while for Trixie to finally arrive. When her knocking came, Katya, with a hoodie roughly shoved over her head, rushed to greet her, to press an overjoyed kiss to her lips.

“Sorry for keeping you, those people just wouldn’t leave.”

“You’re worth the wait, baby.” Katya wiggled her eyebrows and laughed.

Trixie rolled her eyes, pushed Katya along so she could get to the bathroom and steal a few makeup wipes. Katya sat on the toilet seat, staring up at her as they chatted about the show, Trixie telling her how nuts she looked and how everyone else was painfully dull in comparison. “I can’t believe you’ve been holding out on me with that outfit. I can’t begin to imagine what you have left for tomorrow.”

“I know, I should have saved something truly spectacular for the last night. I’ll try my best to wow you, anyway.”

“You don’t have to try at all to do that.”

Trixie dropped the dirty wipes into the bin and turned to Katya, offering out her hand to pull her up. She took it and they both laughed at their difference in height with Trixie’s heels still on. She undressed right there, leaving all her clothes on the bathroom floor, and Katya wrapped her arms around her, touching her wherever was in reach, kissing her deeply, unhurried.

Reaching up to free Katya’s hair from its ruined style, Trixie ran her fingers through her roots, rubbing her scalp. Katya sighed, let Trixie roam her body, take off her hoodie and pull down her underwear so they were both naked, bared. She kissed beneath Trixie’s jaw, nibbling where she fancied it and sucking on her pulse point.

“Can I take some photos of you?” She asked quietly into her ear.

Trixie pulled back, studied her. “Like this?”

Katya nodded. “Only if you’re comfortable. And, it sounds lame maybe, but I’d like some selfies of us too.”

Trixie thought about it, smoothed her palm down Katya’s back to her butt and rested there. “Don’t get my face in the nude ones. Don’t get your face in all the others.” She joked and went further when Katya wheezed, fuelled by her continued amusement, “You might crack the screen. Anyone looking at your haggard face will start bleeding from their eyes.”

She commandeered the both of them, instructing Katya exactly where to sit on the bed so the lighting was right, so that it wasn’t too harsh, artificially shining down on them from the spotlights on the ceiling. She grabbed Katya’s phone, opening the camera and positioning it so their faces were framed. Trixie placed her arm around Katya’s shoulder, pulling her closer. “Ready?” She checked.

Katya smiled as Trixie snapped a few shots. Then, she pulled a few funny faces, surprising Trixie so she laughed, all organically, as she took more. They ended up kissing, Trixie documenting that too, until Katya snatched the phone out of her hand and directed her to “act sexy.”

“Oh my god, stop that. You sound even creepier than usual.”

“What? How is that possible? I told you I would watch you with all my many eyes and that was fine but this, this is what went too far for you? You are wrong in the head, Trixie Mattel.”

“Duh.” She flipped her hair and Katya hurried to take a picture of the action. It was a little blurry but Katya liked it. It depicted her well, how she perched with one leg bent in front of her, the other bent behind, her ass sticking out to the side a little and her waist thus accentuated.

Trixie settled to pose seriously, smouldering over her shoulder before cracking up in between takes. Katya beamed at her, at how she covered her breasts with her hand and arm and managed to look so beautiful whilst being put on the spot. “Don’t forget to blur my face or whatever. I’m not having those being sold for millions of dollars without my permission on, like, OnlyFans or whatever the fuck website perverts go on nowadays.”

“I think millions might be push—”

“Ugh, should I be doing porn?” Trixie interrupted, shaking her hair out behind her, acting up.

“Oh no, I’ve created a monster.”

They continued in the same vein for a while, bumping into each other to kiss or hold onto one another’s arms for stability. Katya flopped onto her back and threw her phone aside. Trixie got up to properly put it away and Katya watched her strut back to the edge of the bed. She didn’t join her.

“Hmm.”

“What are you scheming now?” Katya said, arranging the pillows behind her so her neck didn’t ache.

“Where’s your vibrator?”

Katya smirked. “Oh, I see.” She told her where to find it, curious as to what Trixie wanted to happen next.

She returned to her initial spot. Katya raised her brow in query. Trixie merely played with the chain, turned it on, one hand on her jutted out hip. Then, she upped the speed, dragged it slowly down her stomach, widened her stance and pressed the bullet up against her cunt, eyes rolling back almost instantaneously. Katya waited for Trixie to take things further, to move it against herself or ask Katya to come help. But she stood, head tipped back, luxuriating in what she was controlling.

Katya ached to touch her but was kept in place by her own astute interest. Trixie moved the hand on her hip to reach between her legs and explore there. Katya angled her head so she could see Trixie dip into herself. It was only momentary but it was erotic and so incredible to witness nonetheless.

Trixie began to shift the vibrator to better stimulate herself. She turned it up to the most intense setting and started to rock her hips to add to the pressure. She let out a moan, then two more in succession and Katya swallowed thickly. “You gorgeous thing.” She murmured, more to herself than for Trixie to hear. There was a flicker of recognition on her face, anyway. “Are you gonna come like this?”

Trixie shook her head, peeped at her to check she was still perfectly hypnotised. Katya’s eyes followed the bullet as Trixie took it off of herself and turned it upside down. She spread her legs wider, used her fingers to stretch herself first despite how narrow the vibrator was then pushed it up into herself. “Oh.” She groaned. Katya gripped the bedsheets and groaned too.

Trixie convulsed with every moment that passed, the buzz and her rough, random exhalations the only sounds filling the room, such a contrast to how her voice had surrounded Katya so powerfully earlier. “Why don’t you—” She cut herself off with a sharp intake of breath. “Help me out?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Katya bolted upright, a blood rush sending sparks across her vision. She motioned for Trixie to stand with her thighs on each side of her own. She felt absurdly prim and proper with her knees pressed together, like she was sitting to have her portrait taken. But then Trixie resumed pushing the bullet deeper and deeper inside her and Katya threw all notion of restraint over the fucking balcony railings, bringing her face to Trixie’s cunt and bringing her to completion with her hands grappling at her, trying to pull her even nearer.

Trixie planted her hands on Katya’s shoulders with a smack as her orgasm rushed through her, the vibrator dropping to the floor. Katya licked every drop of her up and Trixie trembled with oversensitivity each time her tongue reached her entrance. She collapsed into Katya’s lap and they tumbled backwards, skin on skin melded together by sweat and pleasure.

“Shit, that was…” Trixie trailed off. It went without saying.

Katya caressed down Trixie’s back, her sides, soothing her and feeling her heartbeat calm until it was steady again. With the weight of Trixie on top of her, Katya was comforted and solid, too. She didn’t want to move, even though what she had witnessed was one of the hottest things in her entire fucking life. When Trixie started to kiss up her neck, she shushed her, stroked her - a silent signal to stay put.

Trixie’s voice came out muffled from where her face was mushed against her. “Don’t you want it too?”

Katya kissed her hair. “I just want this for now.”

“Mmm, this is very nice. I’m not flattening you am I?”

“No, you’ve not achieved your Wisconsin, four hundred pound predisposition yet.”

They rallied a few playful insults before slipping into a gentle quiet. Trixie’s natural scent and the remnants of her perfume blanketed Katya’s senses further. She was all encompassing. Katya wondered what the first few days without her would be like, how she would feel if someone else was wearing her perfume and she sniffed it in passing, whether she would sing along to one of the songs Trixie had performed if she heard it on Spotify or the radio in the morning on the way to work.

“Do you want children in the future?” She blurted out to divert the direction her thoughts were going in. Besides, she had wanted to know.

“Bit soon to be asking me that, isn’t it?” Trixie bumped her foot against her shin. “I go back and forth.”

“You do?”

“Do I wanna— well, let’s be honest, I can’t do this full time and have a child. But maybe in the future once I’ve got all this travelling, free spirit shit out my system. Or maybe that’s just how I am and that’s that. Like, I know I’m thirty and I should, biologically, start thinking about this—”

“Instead of philosophically or, or epistemologically.” Katya teased, barely containing her own satisfaction with herself.

“Shut up! What even is that? No, no, don’t tell me. Shut up.” Katya sniggered as Trixie wriggled about on top of her. “I’m starting to realise, like, spending time with you, that I actually have a lot of growing up to do. Or, maybe not growing up but, like, I need to explore my capacity for certain things before changing up the way I live my life.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s— Since you came aboard with your stupid outfits and googly eyes, like I said to you, I want to look after you and make an effort to make you feel good. I’ve not had to think about shit like that for ages and ages, I just had to think about me, about getting laid to stop everything drying up, and getting to the ship in time to go to the next place. I didn’t realise what I’d been, kind of, potentially depriving myself of. Potentially not, too. It’s something I’m gonna have to figure out.”

“Well, I’m glad to have been of service. If I somehow regain my energy in the next few minutes, you can certainly ‘look after’ me again, but for now I’m happy to, uh, to listen to you. You’ll be relieved to know that you probably have more shit sorted out than me.”

“I guess we’re both just fumbling about trying to make things work, hey?” Trixie raised her head, shimmied up Katya’s body so they were face to face. She imprinted a soft, mellow kiss to her cheek, ghosted another just above her lips. “We’re such complicated women, full of mystery.”

“You were full of something else before.” Katya quipped and had to cover Trixie’s mouth with her hand for how loud her scream-laugh was.

They decided to get under the covers, Katya’s energy waning. She spooned Trixie, nosed at the back of her neck and tried her best to give her words of assurance and encouragement towards coming to her conclusions at her own pace. She acknowledged that it was easier said than done but Trixie told her she appreciated the sentiments nonetheless.

“Sleep easy, Trix.” She whispered and kissed her, once behind her ear, once to her forehead, once to her shoulder. It was all she could do because, extraordinarily, so much had already been done.

Chapter Text

Katya got up before her alarm, having woken every hour since falling asleep. Her stomach churned. As quietly as possible, she opened her doors and stepped out onto the balcony. Leaning with her forearms on the railing, she hung her head over the boundary between her and the sea, mulling over how much of a smack against her body the surface of the water would create if she jumped off.

There were still moments like that, when dying prematurely seemed like a glorious means to an end. But then she heard her mom open her balcony doors too, and heard Trixie turn over in bed, and compartmentalised her thoughts as meagre and unnecessary inconveniences to how she was starting her final day on board. And so she sat herself down, propped her feet up and let the early morning sun burn away the rest of her pensiveness.

Her alarm rang from beside her bed. Trixie turned it off and joined her a few minutes later, complaining about the breeze. They bantered and kissed each other good morning and Katya evaded just why she was out there so early. She didn’t want to give the downer within herself any more attention than she already had. She jokingly asked Trixie if she wanted to come along to the gym with her, to which Trixie, surprising neither of them, vehemently refused.

“I’m performing for the ballroom dancing class, then I’m on deck again this afternoon and in the sky lounge like usual tonight. I’m in demand! So I do actually have to go to my room and get organised first.”

Katya huffed a laugh. “Ugh, fine, I’ll forgive you this once.” She hopped up to get ready, kissed Trixie a long, passionate goodbye and told her she’d see her on deck. “Have a good day.” She beamed as she darted out the door, coming to a stop outside her parents’ stateroom when it suddenly hit her how domestic she had sounded.

She’d never considered herself to be into all that. She wanted to be in love, of course, she wanted to find someone who matched her humour and could withstand all her many tendencies to panic or self-destruct, but from a safe distance - separate houses, maybe even separate cities, separate lives that somehow fit around one another.

Her mom opened the door before she had a chance to knock and she was swept up in her parents’ argument over when they’d have to set their alarm the following day to give them enough time before disembarkation.

The morning passed pleasantly enough. Katya tried to savour each ray of sunlight, each lap when walking around the running track with her mom, each time her dad made her laugh against her better judgement. She dozed, she admired her own tan and the way it made her look a lot healthier than she had appeared when she had first arrived, and she piled her plate extra high with food at the buffet during lunch. She wasn’t alone in that, from what she could observe, everyone else acting like they were going back to rations at home.

“Jesus, Katya, that man over there has had three different curries. Three! I thought your father was bad enough.”

“Mom, chill, Dad only had two.” Katya smirked at her getting all bothered and ordered her a glass of wine.

Katya napped until Trixie was due on stage. They had managed to secure better positioned sunbeds that day, which stupidly filled her with relief, so if she turned around and sat up, she could see most of the stage and Trixie’s awaiting microphone stand. Her guitar was propped up against an amp and the rest of her band’s equipment was plugged in and ready too.

Her parents sat up with her on their loungers and so, when Trixie and her hets (the only way Katya could refer to her band) walked into view, the three of them made a bit of a ruckus, encouraging the people each side of them to cheer louder as well.

Fixing her guitar strap and pulling her hair out of the way, Trixie looked up to the Lido deck, spotting Katya and her family almost straight away. She waved at them then seemed to remember herself and hurriedly waved in other directions too.

“Good afternoon, everyone. My name’s Trixie Mattel, if you somehow didn’t know by now because, wow, I’m here every day. How lucky am I! I don’t mean to rub it in, of course. I know you’re all sad to be leaving tomorrow. Let me hear how sad you are.” She put her hand to her ear to performatively listen to the audience’s boos and grumbles. “Damn, ok, that’s worse than I thought. But! Have no fear, my job, along with my band of very handsome gentlemen behind me, is to keep you entertained for the next couple of hours. In the spirit of, well, keeping our spirits up, let’s get started with Happy. Please sing and clap along if you know the words. Just don’t outshine me.”

Katya laughed, her parents joining in. She swayed in her seat along to the poppy beat and watched Trixie shake her hips and float her arms up and down during the bridge, unobstructed by her guitar seemingly unneeded for this particular song.

“Alright!” Trixie whooped into her mic. She went through a succession of upbeat, cheery tunes, hyping up families to get up and dance, and passed acerbic comments in between tracks that left everyone clamouring for her attention.

“This next one I remember being played on the radio a lot when it was first released but I never really vibed with it when I was younger. I usually don’t have this song in my set but I asked the guys if we could slot it in at the last minute. You better give us a standing ovation once we’re done, ok? I promised them it would be worth it so you’ve gotta promise me to go wild, because the lyrics are starting to really mean something to me at the moment. Ooh, we’re getting personal on this Friday afternoon! Ok, ok, enough of me ranting. This is Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall.”

Katya stood, giving all her attention to what Trixie was about to perform. Trixie and her guitarist alternated the first strums of the song and when she sang, “Her face is a map of the world, is a map of the world”, Katya’s whole body and spirit froze, fixed in place by Trixie gazing up at her and not once looking away until the last few notes. Her voice was stronger than Katya had heard it before. She was no expert, of course, but it sounded that way to her. Maybe she was biased. She was definitely blushing the house down by the end, anyway.

The crowd obediently catered to Trixie’s whims and she thanked everyone for indulging her. “You can all have a drink on me.” She announced, eliciting a further roar of applause, only to tell everyone to pipe down, she was kidding. “I’m not made of money. I work on a cruise ship, people, I’m obviously not that successful a singer.”

Katya wiggled about for the rest of Trixie’s set and was pleased to see the majority of other guests with her, up on their feet to dance and sing along to whatever she was playing.

For her last song, Trixie beckoned as many people as she could to the space in front of the stage. Katya, with the nagging of her parents, rushed across the deck, down the stairs and snuck her way to the front so she was positioned right before Trixie. Trixie didn’t see at first, tapping her pedal board and tweaking her tuning. But then, when she looked up and saw Katya there, purposefully leering at her with her unhinged jaw, she broke out into a careening laugh.

Trixie and her band pulled out all the stops for a rendition of Go Your Own Way. Once Trixie had finished up, thanking the crowd and wishing them a fantastic evening, it took all Katya’s restraint not to jump up on the stage and give her a knock-out kiss. Trixie, nevertheless, singled her out with a dorky high five that sent them both into hysterics.

When the crowd had thinned and she was relatively out of earshot of the people around them, all too busy ordering their final drinks before getting ready for dinner, Katya hung by the side of the stage and threw compliment after compliment Trixie’s way. “Oh and you guys were great too. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to brush you all off, I’m just not used to thinking about men.” Trixie’s bandmates didn’t quite know how to react to such an admission but Trixie thanked her on their behalf and told them to scamper.

“Thanks, Katya.” One of them waved to her before leaving.

She waved back. “Which one’s he again?” She spoke out the side of her mouth.

Trixie put her head in her hands. “Oh my god.”

Katya lapped up the scraps of time she got handed as Trixie tidied up the stage and was grateful Jan or another officer wasn’t around to steal her away prematurely.

“They’re all getting ready for the, like, parade thing this evening.” Trixie explained when Katya vocalised her delight.

“The what?”

“You’ll see.”

Back down in her cabin, Katya pulled the final, unseen look from her wardrobe and smiled, remembering exactly what had happened with Trixie the last time she had worn a suit. This one was made of a deep purple velvet, its jacket a smoking style which tied at the waist. Underneath, she put on a silk printed shirt, a jaguar’s face on the chest looking out all fierce and intimidating in the gap between her black lapels.

Everything else apart from the outfit she was going to wear to the airport the next day was packed away, ready to go. Her main suitcase had to be left outside her room to be collected whilst she was at dinner and so she had organised it all rather spectacularly (low expectations of herself, admittedly) to get it sorted in good time.

She took advantage of everything offered to her at dinner. Whilst tucking in to dessert, the restaurant’s lights dimmed and the quaint background music silenced. Jan’s voice, loud and chirpy, rang out across the room, introducing the culinary team, the head chef, then all the other divisions of crew - the engineers, the cleaners, the hospitality team, a whole list of people who helped make the cruise a smooth sail. The captain and first and second officers were named and applauded and then, to indistinguishable celebratory music, all the staff trotted around the restaurant to the magnitudinal commendation of the diners.

Katya consequently understood what the hell Trixie had been on about. “Holy shit.” Her parents didn’t hear her, too busy high-fiving the maître d' as he jogged past.

Her parents didn’t bother with the show and so instead they all enjoyed a range of drinks at the ice bar, chatting with the mixologists. One had very much taken a shine to Katya but her mom told him she was involved with a man back home. Katya laughed at her excuse afterwards.

“He was Russian, Katya, you know what Russian men are like.”

“Mom, I know what all men are like and that is exactly why I stay as far away from them as possible at all times.”

“You’ve got the right idea there, darling. I wish I could do that.” She huffed, sending a scathing look to her left. Katya’s dad was striking up a conversation with a British man about a previous cruise they’d been on, passing what he thought were smart remarks at the top of his voice. “Kill me now. Can I come back to LA with you instead?”

At exactly ten fifteen, they made their way up to the sky lounge and sat at their preferred table as Trixie was introducing her band and their first song. Katya danced the night away, barely resting for a minute and even then just to drink her champagne with no risk of spilling it, on herself or someone else. She had shed her jacket and rolled up the sleeves of her shirt, exposing her tattoos, the cat on her wrist and her own creepy drawing on her forearm, and she hadn’t missed the way Trixie had looked at them. She’d get it out of her later, Katya thought, just what it was that was making her so hot under her lack-of-a collar.

She was pleasantly buzzed by the end, spinning in circles then standing on the spot with her eyes closed as the room caught up with her. The DJ was about to take over and that was her cue to motion to Trixie that she would see her in a few minutes. When she looked to the stage, Trixie had packed her things away but had abandoned them on the side, strutting over to her instead.

“May I have this dance, young, well, old lady?”

Katya burst out laughing, covering her heated face with her hands and peeping through her fingers. “When you charm me like that, how can I refuse?”

She made sure to hug her parents before they left, and thanked them for such a wonderful time.

Then, she averted her attention back to the fucking insane woman in front of her.

“I put a request in with the DJ,” Trixie grinned, her pink lips and harsh contour accentuating her smug expression, “He obviously doesn’t have your bizarro shit. But he has some of mine, because I gave it to him and I want you to...to know I’ll think of you when I listen to this song in the future.”

“Ugh, gross.” Katya joked but pulled Trixie into her by the hands, a little rougher than she meant to but she didn’t care. Neither did Trixie, going off how close her lips were to Katya’s. The first track of the DJ’s set was still playing and so Trixie led Katya into the middle of the floor. “You’re a hundred percent sure you won’t get told off for very obviously fraternising with a guest?”

Trixie nodded. “Jan knows. She’s cool with it, we’ve talked it through. The higher ups won’t be hearing about it and the captain’s a dyke too so she’d be on my side.” There weren’t many people left, a lot of guests due very early starts (Katya had taken note of all the allotted disembarkation times on the letter left in her room from guest relations). Katya wrapped her arms around Trixie in what she initially intended to be a slow-dance hold but ended up evolving into a hug, long and tight.

Trixie only pulled away when the opening bars of her requested song blared through the speakers. She took Katya’s hands again and started stepping side to side when the beat came in.

“What the fuck is this?” Katya asked, genuinely unaware.

“Shut up! It’s Michelle Branch, ok, this song is everything. Dance with me and fucking listen.”

Katya didn’t expect the guitars, the pop rock sound and crashing drums. They jumped about together, acting like total idiots, and Trixie gave it her all when enacting the lyrics with her moves, closing her eyes and outstretching her arms, purposefully grappling over Katya’s boobs whilst singing, “It’s you I see. You’re everything I know that makes me believe I’m not alone.”

During the final chorus, Trixie slung her arms over Katya’s shoulders and, as the acoustic guitar part rounded off the song, Katya couldn’t wait, tipping her face up towards Trixie’s and kissing her like she had been desperate to all day.

They rushed, after that - Trixie to thank the DJ and collect her things and Katya to down a couple of glasses of water and dash to her cabin. When Trixie waltzed through her door, Katya let her pick her up and spin her around. She carried her straight to the bed and placed her down with some accompanying cheeky comments about her size.

“For how much of a clunky broad you are, you really are quite adorable.” Katya laughed into Trixie’s hair as she kissed up her neck. “That was, uh, that was real sweet. What you did. And I’m not just talking about Michelle Bonch - Banch. What’s her name?”

Trixie raised herself up, motioned grabbing Katya’s throat with her hand and throttling her. “I will kill you. Michelle Branch!”

“Yeah, that’s what I said!” Katya affected. They laughed into each other necks until Katya determined to be serious for one whole fucking minute and finish what she had tried to broach. “I liked how you put that other song in your set too, how you were the one watching me during that performance.”

Trixie kissed her, cupped her face with her hand, delicate but forthcoming. “Music’s how I express myself. It’s a fun way to get the message across.” Another kiss, then a few more. Katya sighed into them.

“I have another way in mind, too, y’know.”

They fucked, side by side, watching each other in the brief reprieves between kissing, deep and wet and as a means to memorise. Katya tasted Trixie everywhere, ran her nose across where her scents were strongest, felt her breasts and her curves and the ridges of her cellulite and listened to her come, filthy noises leaving her spit slicked mouth, unimpeded.

Katya lay back and let Trixie eat her out. She paused whenever Katya was getting close to describe just how hot she looked in her suit. “Your tattoos are so sexy but only getting a glimpse of them and then everything else of you being covered, ugh, that was so fucking erotic to me.” Trixie rubbed what felt like her whole face against her cunt and, once she finally orgasmed after being brought to the brink and left there so many fucking times, she licked her own wetness off of Trixie’s chin, her lips and the side of her mouth.

Trixie raised herself to sitting, running her hand up and down Katya’s shin. Katya, still coming down, remained a dead weight, slack and content. She frowned as Trixie suddenly shifted, a discomfort overtaking her posture, the lines by her mouth deepening with concern.

“Everything ok?”

Yes, yeah,” Trixie rushed out, likely conscious of Katya’s disposition, her inclination to catastrophize, “I just...we should talk, shouldn’t we? I mean, it would’ve been a bit wiser not to leave it to the last minute maybe but I guess it’s not a matter of when, just that we do. I…” She trailed off, hanging on Katya’s contribution.

Katya propped herself up with her pillows, giving herself a few seconds to collect her thoughts, to shift through the worries and uncertainties to get to what was actually crucial. “Let’s talk then. I know I’m not the most, uh, stable of people but I— don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around shit. You don’t mince your words usually so don’t now. I’m good.”

Her voice sounded a little harsher than she had intended but luckily Trixie didn’t seem to be offended.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing to come out of her trip, Katya thought then, was that Trixie had loosened her tongue (pun fully intended) without even trying. She hadn’t pressured her to open up, she hadn’t asked any leading or intrusive questions. She probably hadn’t even divulged her deepest fears or secrets herself, but what she had shared was enough for Katya to respond to, to match her and communicate on a level that was appropriate. Katya had spent her year bottled up, contained in company and explosive in solitude. With Trixie, she hadn’t needed to control, to patch up the holes in her in an attempt to prevent any leakage.

“Ok,” Trixie smiled, made a point to keep looking at her, “I think it’s clear we’re both at a point where we’re undergoing changes, let’s say. And I think we’re adult enough to be aware that both of our situations aren’t ideal, but also aren’t worth discrediting. So, I’ll tell you what I think’s best and then you can call me a dick or agree or, huh, whatever really, and we’ll go from there. But just know that I’ve had a fucking blast getting to know you. You’re something else, y’know.”

Katya swallowed. “So are you.”

Trixie opened her mouth but promptly closed it again, evidently changing her mind on something on the spot. She leaned over, coming onto her hands and knees and levelling herself with Katya. Tilting her head to the side, she parted her lips and grazed them over Katya’s. Katya ran her fingers through her hair, getting it out of their way. She stroked down her face, cupping her jaw and beckoning her in. They kissed, a confirmation of their conversation, and Katya bit down on her bottom lip, unable to articulate the beauty of the intensity she felt any other way. Licking over the sore spot, she slid her index and middle finger down Trixie’s neck to rest above her pulse point. Whatever they decided on, there was something between them that would forever be kept alive.

They ended up face to face again, sharing the same pillow as they had done for so many nights previously.

Katya played with Trixie's hand, encouraging her to continue. “This isn’t the kind of situation where I beg you to stay another two weeks, or where we instantly make arrangements to see each other as soon as my contract ends. I don’t think I would be happy cutting off contact, like, limiting ourselves to the duration of your vacation either. But I have shit to work through, you have stuff to work through too, you need to stay focussed on your health and, basically, this is my long winded way of saying, why don’t we swap numbers and if, in a few months down the line, we’re still alright, we re-evaluate then?”

Katya huffed a laugh, a short, sharp outpouring of relief. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” She played with Trixie’s hair, curling it and uncurling it with her index finger. “I’ve fucking adored this trip but it isn’t real life, it isn’t my life and I need to, to go back and sort out what all that shit actually looks and feels like. I thought about staying on, of course I did, and I hope me deciding against doing that— well, it’s not like, bye bitch, I got what I wanted so we’re done. I didn’t expect any of this. I just...I need to face up to reality and I think maybe, just maybe, I’m strong enough to do that now.”

“Oh thank god, I thought I was just rambling to soften a blow.” Trixie turned to mush her face into the pillow.

“No need to soften any blows on my account.” Katya japed, sticking her tongue out and flicking it up and down, then side to side, when Trixie faced her again.

“On second thoughts…” Trixie joked, cackling. She asked Katya to pass her her phone and put her number in to her contacts, adding a couple of pink heart emojis next to her name. “Text me when you get home, just so I know your plane didn’t crash or whatever, and then, I dunno, let’s just take it from there. Whatever ends up being right, right?”

“Right.” Katya nodded, overly deadpan until Trixie twigged she was teasing her and they burst into hysterics, all seriousness eradicated by their joint mastery of nonsense.

It was nearing the early hours of the morning and Katya was fighting off tiredness. When Trixie protested, telling her she should rest before her journey home, Katya insisted she could sleep on the flight. “Just give me a minute.” She got up out of bed and jumped up and down, making sure her landings were soft against the carpet so as not to make too much noise. Trixie made fun of her ridiculousness, which only spurred Katya on further, breaking out some god-awful dance moves (the very thing that had charmed Trixie so in the first place) and whipping her hair around.

“I feel like I’ve just witnessed a possession. Do I need to call a priest?”

Katya came to pose in a wide stance, hands cupping her breasts and hair falling over half her face. “No but I wouldn’t mind a couple of sexy nuns.”

“I am not roleplaying that.” Trixie laughed, coming to the edge of the bed and taking hold of Katya’s waist, dragging her on top of her as she lay back.

“Oh come on,” Katya smirked, rolling her hips and pressing herself into Trixie. “Don’t you have some sins to confess? Or are you more about getting on your knees to pray?”

After much protesting and bickering back and forth, they crashed back into each other, the lack of remaining time together hanging over their heads. Katya rutted into Trixie’s thigh, pushed her hands above her and held them there, pressing down with just enough pressure to trap her. Trixie moaned, a renewed flush creeping over her face, down to her chest. Katya felt her wetness drag along Trixie’s skin, dipped her head to suck on her nipples and bit a mark into her flesh. A reminder.

They came within seconds of each other and held on with desperate limbs for as many minutes as they had left.

-

Katya took one last look around her cabin, checking she hadn’t forgotten anything. She had her carry on luggage all packed up outside and her sea pass card in her hand, ready to use for the final time. She closed the door, shouting down the hallway to Ernesto, thanking him for all that he had done and requesting that he tell her cabin attendant the same. Her gratuities had already been paid and she was pleased to know that they were evenly shared out between all the crew at the end of the twelve day cycle.

Trixie was leaning against the opposite wall, next to some framed artwork Katya hadn’t taken any notice of before. “Sorted?”

“Yep. Can’t wait to walk around the airport in heels like a monster. What was I thinking?” She sighed, looking down at her Louboutins.

“That you’re a fierce bitch who don’t need no depression?” Trixie supplied, taking her hand.

“Absolutely.” Katya walked the few steps to her parents’ door and knocked.

The four of them congregated in the narrow corridor. Her mom wished Trixie the best for the rest of her contract and kissed her cheek. “I hope this isn’t the last we see of you.” She said and, before Katya could groan from embarrassment, added, “On another cruise or otherwise.”

“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll crop up sometime, somewhere.” Trixie, as ever, handled her perfectly.

Her dad shook Trixie’s hand and repeated how lovely it was to meet her.

“Katya, we’ll just wait for you by the elevators, ok?” Her mom nudged her dad and they tactfully left them to it.

Trixie grinned. Katya didn’t quite know what to do.

“So...take care, safe flight and good luck to your feet.” Trixie squeezed her hand, coaxing her.

“Thank you. Good luck, uh, performing on no sleep today.”

Trixie assured her she’d have a nap and that she’d charm the new batch of guests expertly. “Come on, you better get going.”

Katya nodded, solemn at first, but broke out into a cheeky smile. “Not without a filthy kiss first, you whore.”

“You just can’t get enough!”

She couldn’t deny it, so instead slung her arms around Trixie’s neck and kissed her like they were back in her cabin and had a whole night’s worth of opportunity to explore each other.

“Wow…” Trixie blinked. “That’s one to remember.”

Katya kissed her again, shorter, becoming conscious of keeping her parents waiting. “I’ll text you.” She said, anything else redundant.

Trixie bit her lip, let her go. Katya took hold of her suitcase and began to walk away. She could hear her parents talking as she got nearer to the stairwell. Just before she turned the corner, she looked back and paused. Trixie had her arms wrapped around herself but she smiled and raised her hand to wave at her. Katya waved back, shook her head and carried on.

She wasn’t leaving Trixie behind - she didn’t need to take her.

Her parents both brought her into a hug and got into the elevator with her, down to Deck 2, to their exit. Katya let out a shaky breath and braced herself for the outside world.

-

Stepping onto the portside, Katya looked up at the ship, to the very top deck, then down to the open door and gangway where her fellow passengers were getting off. Her parents had organised a taxi to take them to the airport. First, they had to get through the terminal building to find and collect their bags. They were organised by deck and class and so it was easy to find their things as there were fewer concierge class guests than otherwise. Her dad dragged her suitcase along too, despite her protestations, and they found the right pickup spot at the taxi rank.

In the car, Katya watched indistinct buildings pass as they sped down the I-95 towards Miami International Airport. Her parents were quiet as well. Katya wasn’t ready to let herself think over the trip, over everything that had transpired, but she sat with her grief, knowing she would prod at it later.

She was able to go through TSA with her parents, their flights scheduled close together. They sat outside a Dunkin’ Donuts with giant iced coffees and thus memories of her home city aplenty. Katya’s mom insisted she get some snacks for the plane and so she was lumbered with a bag filled with a cream cheese bagel, a coffee roll and a Boston Crème. She pretended to be put out. Really, she knew she would feel bereft of such maternal fawning throughout the following few days, getting home to an empty fridge, a silent apartment.

“Thank you.” She mumbled. “Not just for this.” She raised the striped bag. “For everything, always. I hope you know how, uh, how grateful I am, and that I’m serious about getting better. This has really helped. Sorry if I kind of went off with Trixie a bit too much but it was nice. It was all really, really nice.”

Ever working to the last minute, she admitted all that had gone on, didn’t skip the uncomfortable details of her pain and her mismanagement of it. Her parents had known about the business taking a hit but Katya had only previously divulged the mistakes and not the true effects of them on her health.

Her mom held her and didn’t let go until their flight number was called. “Thank you, too, Katya. It’s been wonderful being with you.”

“We love you so, so much.” Her dad said, kissing her forehead. “We’re always here. Call us if ever you need anything, no matter what time of day. No matter what, ok?”

“I will.” She promised, bundled up in his arms.

She went with them to the gate and waved them off until they were out of sight. She had half an hour before her own gate opened. She meandered then sat with her phone for the remaining wait.

Opening up her messages, she went straight to her thread with Fena. The last one she had sent told her to enjoy her break from her and thanked her for everything she had done. She typed out a new one and read it aloud to herself, liking how much more positive she sounded.

“Hey, just at the airport. Had a fantastic time - I have so much to tell you on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to being back in the office but would also like to go to dinner and properly catch up. Hope you’ve survived these past two weeks, despite obviously missing me sooooo much.” She added a kissy face emoji for good measure and huffed a laugh to herself, imagining Fena’s reaction.

Her plane was on time and she got to her seat with minimal fuss. She was positioned by the window and, once she had stowed her luggage and fastened her seat belt, got out her earphones, cranked up her music and tried to let whatever was due to come to the surface do so.

A few minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off, she opened up a new message thread.

“Helloooo.” She began with, wondering how best to proceed. “I’m on the plane.” Great start. “Just thought I’d text now because of time differences and your star status, being so in demand on the ship (and lack of signal etc). I may or may not be listening to Michelle Bonch (it’s Branch, I know, I KNOW, but doesn’t Bonch sound funnier?) and thinking how excellent we both are at dancing. And fucking. Not too terrible at the heart-to-hearts either, though our piss and shit jokes obviously still reign supreme. Anyway, I better turn on airplane mode. Enjoy having to sing to people who can’t shake their ass as wonderfully as me. Difficult, yes, but someone’s gotta do it. I will think of you the next time I hear Dusty Springfield...and the next time I use that bullet vibe. They say romance is dead! I had an amazing time with you, if that wasn’t crystal clear before. Ok, shit, we’re about to take off. Bye, I guess?! Katya xx”

Katya pressed send, hunched over her phone. She watched the ‘delivered’ status pop up, then sat back, heaving a huge sigh.

It had been difficult to reconcile what had gone on between her and Trixie and her own growth back into a person who could potentially make space for someone else. It seemed like she had dived head first into intimacy again whilst, all the while, being freed from the pressure of serious expectation. Having Trixie take charge, determine how they would both frame their experience together, took away the stress for Katya.

She was pleased that they had gotten a nice moment with one another before she had left, one removed from the confines of her cabin but secluded enough to be private - special - to them alone.

During the ascent, she closed her eyes, the familiar drone of the plane and her own shallow breath doing little to keep her where she was right then, her thoughts wandering back to the water, the gentle rock of the ship, the point where tepid waves met the sands of postcard picture beaches. Her memories were well made, beautiful in how they evolved in her mind’s eye. She saw herself sink beneath the surface, floating amongst the fish, with Trixie, without her, laughing into her snorkel beside her dad and coming up again to walk the shoreline with her mom.

The tide had taken her in and now she was ready to be sent out again, nourished and calm, to resume her life on land once more.