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then why's it feel so good?

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Karolina turns her computer off, rubbing a hand over her face as she kicks off from her desk and gives her chair a slow spin. She’s fairly certain she’s the only person left on the entire floor, probably the only executive left in the building, and she stops her chair spinning with one heel and gets to her feet. Staying late should be habit for her by now, she hasn’t left work at five since she started at Waystar, but every day she prays she’ll be able to leave on time and every day she doesn’t leave until it’s pitch-black outside and the only dinner places open are a bodega and the all-night sushi restaurant she refuses to so much as walk past on her way home.

It doesn’t take her long to get ready to leave, the motions as easy as breathing, and she collects her briefcase and her coat, tucking her phone into her purse as she pulls all the blinds down over the glass walls and starts for the door. Someone will be up to vacuum soon, a man who’s signed several NDAs just to empty her garbage can, and Karolina is just about to leave when a familiar head of red hair glides through the door and shuts it behind her.

“Hi, Karolina.” Shiv says, resplendent as always in a charcoal turtleneck and plaid pants, pausing in front of Karolina with one of her saccharine smiles. They’re almost the same height, Karolina just slightly taller, and Karolina hates how Shiv always says her name as if it’s the worst word she can think of. All of the Roys say her name like that, like they’re spitting out a mouthful of poison, and Shiv tilts her head just so as she examines Karolina for a moment. “Do you have a minute?”

“Can this wait?” Karolina very pointedly glances past Shiv to the door. She wants to go to bed, and Shiv showing up unannounced means trouble and time and probably some sort of scandal Karolina is going to have to clean up, and she could clean it up much better once she’s had eight hours of sleep and probably an Ativan or five. It’s not like it’s Friday, Karolina will be in her office at eight-thirty tomorrow morning, but Shiv purses her lips and glances down at her watch, a timepiece that Karolina had helped select as a birthday gift from Logan.

“Places to be?” Shiv lifts a single red brow, dropping her arm back to her side, and Karolina huffs a very long sigh. She does have places to be, namely her bed in her pjs with her cat and a mountain of thick comforters, and doesn’t Shiv have a husband to be getting home to? Tom is probably sitting awake waiting for her to get home, in a hideously ugly pair of pyjamas complete with matching nightcap. Karolina isn’t sure why, exactly, she’s picturing Tom as Ebenezer Scrooge in this scenario, but her brain is usually right about these things.

“It’s midnight, Shiv. Is it an emergency?” Karolina asks, and Shiv crinkles her nose up as if she’s debating. Fucking hell. If Shiv is trying to decide whether or not it’s an emergency, it isn’t an emergency, and Karolina wants to put her head through the glass wall of her office. She’d also settle for jumping out of the window, but her interest level in being a smeared bit of middle-aged brunette on the sidewalk below isn’t super high.

“No.” Shiv makes a show of sitting in one of the chairs in front of Karolina’s desk, crossing her legs neatly and resting her elbows on the arms of the chair. Karolina sighs again, leaning back against her desk and crossing her arms over her chest, and watches as Shiv looks around her office as if she’s trying to pinpoint something to talk about. Karolina keeps her office fairly sparse, there are a few nondescript photographs framed on the wall and some fake plants on a shelf, Karolina doesn’t like letting people she works with know too much about her, and she waits for Shiv to speak again and grits her teeth when Shiv does. “Nice office.”

“Not as nice as yours.”

“Well, you don’t have my last name. I don’t even know your last name, actually. What is it?”

“Shiv. What do you need?” Karolina says as an answer. Shiv not knowing her last name shouldn’t be a surprise, but it stings a little all the same, and Karolina chooses to ignore it. If Shiv can’t read the nameplate beside her door, that’s her fucking problem. Shiv leans back in her chair, her knees crossed neatly, and raises both her eyebrows as if Karolina has told her to go fuck herself.

“Not going to butter me up or anything? Straight to the point?” Shiv asks, and Karolina rubs a hand over her face. She’d butter Shiv up if Shiv wasn’t keeping her at the office past midnight, if Shiv had something she wanted, but Shiv has nothing she wants and nothing she’s interested in and Karolina sets her coat down on her desk with a frown.

“Out with it or get out of my office.” Karolina is being far too dismissive of her boss’s daughter, but she can’t bring herself to care right now. Shiv doesn’t seem to care either, because she rests her phone on her knee and turns the screen on. If Karolina had to guess, she’d say Shiv has missed at least three texts from Tom, all similarly needy, asking where she is and if she’s safe and if she wants him to wait up for her, and Shiv turns her phone off and tucks it into her purse neatly.

“I need you to take care of someone for me.” Shiv says, tapping her fingers along her thigh, and Karolina just barely resists the urge to roll her eyes. Of course she does. All of the Roys use Karolina as their personal janitor, throw problems at her and expect her to tidy them up without complaint, as if her loyalties lie with them and not with the company. Kendall and Roman, fine, because they actually have jobs that fall under Karolina’s jurisdiction, but Shiv and Connor and even Tom like to hand over their problems for Karolina to scrub away.

“I’m not a hitman. I’m sure Roman knows one, though. Try him.” Karolina shrugs. It wouldn’t surprise her if Roman knew a hitman, probably he’s gotten jacked off by one or two, and Shiv laughs with no humour and cold dead eyes. The Roys have all mastered those eyes, like the rows of fish resting atop beds of ice Karolina sees at the grocery store, empty and glassy and devoid of any emotion whatsoever, and Shiv’s are particularly haunting, pale blue without a drop of life behind them.

“Not like that.” Shiv waves her hand again, leaning slightly forwards in her chair, and Karolina makes a deliberate point not to look at her tits in her turtleneck, even though Shiv is practically begging her to stare. She doesn’t stare, keeps her eyes on Shiv’s face, and Shiv keeps going as if Karolina is an idiot. “I need you to keep him quiet. Pay him off, threaten him, bully him into silence. I don’t care about the details. Do your job.”

“This isn’t my job.” It really, really isn’t Karolina’s job to cover up Shiv’s cheating on Tom. If Logan was stepping out on Marcia, maybe, but she doesn’t want to pay off some young dumb aspiring model/actor/singer/prostitute that Shiv decided to bang instead of her loser husband. She doesn’t really want to talk to him, actually, doesn’t even want to know what kind of men Shiv likes to fuck that aren’t Tom. Young, stupid, probably appropriately stubbly and muscly. Karolina had never really seen the appeal, but she’s never really seen the appeal of men, so she supposes she can’t judge.

“Sure it is. Your job is to fix it, my job is to forget about it as soon as it’s in your hands.”

“I don’t work for you. I work for Waystar.”

“Fine, then I’m not asking you to do this as your job.” Shiv isn’t wearing her wedding ring, which strikes Karolina as odd. Makes sense if she’s screwing people who aren’t her husband, but unless she’s just come from doing so, there’s no reason for her to have taken it off. Karolina is sure that Tom doesn’t take off his wedding ring to shower or swim or work out, he probably clutches it to his chest while he sleeps, and Shiv barely seems to have it on. Tom wears his ring like it’s the only thing keeping him alive and Shiv wears her ring like it’s an afterthought, and Karolina feels inexplicably sad (even though she can’t stand Tom). “I’m asking you to do this as a favour to me.”

“Ah.” Karolina nods, just barely stifling a yawn. A favour for Shiv? Fantastic. “I don’t usually do favours for people I don’t like, you know.”

“You don’t like me?” Shiv doesn’t look hurt, exactly, more startled, and Karolina tilts her head. Of course she doesn’t like Shiv. Do people like Shiv? Does anyone like Shiv? Tom does, of course, but Tom likes Shiv the way dogs like whoever feeds them. Roman and Connor and Kendall, maybe, in the way Karolina likes her brother after not speaking to him for fifteen years, and out of the Roy siblings Shiv is the most tolerable, but that’s like picking a favourite rat that’s infested your home.

“This surprises you?” Karolina says, and Shiv uncrosses her legs. She’s wearing heels, slim and black and not particularly high, and she plants them on the carpet firmly as if she’s preparing for war. It feels dramatic. Karolina isn’t planning on fighting her on this, she just doesn’t want to deal with it right now.

“It surprises me that you’re willing to say it to my face. I could get you fired if I wanted.” Shiv rests her chin in her hand and looks Karolina dead in the eyes. She’s trying to be intimidating, clearly, but Karolina isn’t going to get fired. She’s good at her job and Logan doesn’t fire people because his daughter told him to, mostly because he doesn’t think she’s as smart as she thinks she is. Shiv is smart, smarter than Logan, but Logan thinks he’s the smartest person in any given room and no one ever bothers to correct him.

“Uh huh. Except you still want me to do you a favour, and getting me fired isn’t exactly the best way to go about that.” Karolina counters. She isn’t afraid of Siobhan Roy. Shiv isn’t going to get her fired because she doesn’t like her. If Shiv fired every single person in this building who didn’t like her, Logan would come back in the morning to an empty office.

“There are two dozen people in this building right now that could do this for me.” Shiv says, sharply, and Karolina nearly rolls her eyes. Two dozen other people, sure, but none of them guaranteed her secret stays one, and none of them are nearly as talented as Karolina. Shiv coming to her with this means Shiv trusts Karolina to keep this under wraps, and Karolina will. She just might hold it over Shiv’s head for a while.

“But you came to me.” Karolina says, and Shiv nods, red hair swinging like a curtain of silk. She waits, and Karolina uncrosses her arms and rubs her temples. It really is too late for her to be dealing with Shiv. “This could have waited until tomorrow morning.”

“Probably.” Shiv shrugs. Karolina extracts her phone from her pocket and checks it, three unread emails staring at her in silence. Hugo should not be fucking emailing her at half past midnight, Hugo shouldn’t be fucking emailing her at all. Christ. Shiv arches a single brow, as if Karolina checking her phone is the greatest sin she could commit, and her voice is like acid when she speaks again. “Alright. Thanks. I’ll be sure to mention this to my dad when we discuss who’s going down for Cruises.”

Shiv pushes herself to her feet, dusting off her pants as if she doesn’t want Karolina’s office to linger, and Karolina heaves a sigh that’s so loud Shiv sits back down. Karolina knows, of course she knows, that it might be her that goes down for all the Cruises bullshit. She’s the head of PR, she helped cover it up, she’s been involved in all of it and the weight of the scandal might rest solely on her shoulders, but she has a feeling it won’t. Her position in the company isn’t high enough for the media to be satisfied with her body nailed to the cross, and it’ll probably end up being Kendall or Tom. Maybe both.

“Name?”

“Hm?”

“The man you cheated on Tom with. Name?” Karolina unlocks her phone and opens a new note, thumbs poised expectantly over the screen. She can deal with this in the morning, but she doesn’t want to talk to Shiv about it more than necessary, and Shiv looks like she’s genuinely struggling to remember his name, her brows furrowed and forehead creased as she thinks.

“Chris.” Shiv says finally, triumphantly, as if remembering the name of the man she two-timed Tom with is a victory, and Karolina sucks her teeth. Great. Like there aren’t a thousand Chrises just on this city block. Does Shiv just pick the men with the most bland, neutral names she can, so if she forgets she has a one in ten shot of getting it right?

“Chris what?”

“Don’t remember. He’s in Willa’s play.”

“Great.” Karolina types Chris Willa’s play into her phone and turns the screen off. She hasn’t seen Willa’s play and she doesn’t want to see Willa’s play, not because she doesn’t like Willa or because she heard it was bad, but because spending three hours watching men kick sand around on stage doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend her miniscule amounts of free time. Willa seems nice, Karolina’s met her a few times but mostly in passing, and she’d be surprised if Willa even remembered her name. “Anything else I can do for you, Shiv?”

“You can do this, right?” Shiv says, leaning forwards and resting her elbows on her knees. Her back shifts, the knobs of her spine just barely visible beneath the dark grey cashmere, and Karolina averts her eyes so she isn’t tempted to press her fingers into the knot of tight bone at the nape of Shiv’s neck.

“I’ve done harder things than paying off an understudy.” Karolina lifts one leg, bracing the heel of her shoe against the front of her desk, and Shiv tucks a bit of hair behind her ear. Her hair looks better than it used to, the bob suits her, makes her look more professional and less dowdy, and Karolina wonders if the sheet of red is as soft and smooth as it looks.

“I didn’t say he was an understudy.” Shiv lifts an eyebrow, eyes cold as ever, and Karolina shrugs one shoulder. Not that hard to deduce, really. Shiv wouldn’t fuck a lead actor, or a prominient figure, or someone who might think themselves better than her, because Shiv thinks herself better than everyone and she needs the people she sleeps with to reflect it. It’s why she’s married to Tom. Tom will spend the rest of his life trying to claw his way into believing he deserves her, and that’s all Shiv wants.

“You wouldn’t fuck someone playing a main role. They might get too big for their britches.”

“Touche. Harder things, huh? What’s the hardest?”

“You know I can’t tell you that.” Karolina taps her heel against her desk, checking her watch and huffing half a sigh. Doesn’t Shiv have stuff to do in the morning? Christ. Karolina needs a coffee or to go to bed, she doesn’t want to be awake right now, but a goading smile appears on Shiv’s face as she looks at Karolina.

“C’mon. I can keep a secret.” Shiv urges, lacing her fingers and resting her chin on her knuckles neatly. She’s wearing three rings, gold, and Karolina twists a ring off her own finger and drops it into the pocket of her trousers. She slips them off, one by one, metal clinking against metal, and Shiv watches her do it, her icy eyes fixed on Karolina’s fingers as she does.

“It’s not you I’m worried about.” Karolina says. She taps her nails along her desk, palms resting on top, and Shiv peers up at her with pursed lips, a brutal slash of dark pink against smooth pale skin. She’s wearing a thin gold necklace, the kind Karolina wore when she was young, and a small pendant rests against the base of her throat, something that Karolina can’t make out carved into the surface. It’s odd, but she supposes Shiv doesn’t need to wear anything gaudy or ostentatious.

“Was it Dad fucking Gerri? It was Dad and Gerri, wasn’t it?” Shiv claps her hands together, an oddly delighted grin on her face, and Karolina can’t hide her grimace. Shiv doesn’t seem to notice, which checks out for her, she just presses her palms together and widens her eyes. “Oh, that is gross. Eugh. It’s gotta be before I was born, right?”

“God, how old do you think I am?”

“I don’t know. Fifty?”

“Hardly.” Karolina is forty-three, forty-four in a few months, but Shiv doesn’t need to know that. There’s barely ten years between them, and Karolina is a little offended that Shiv thinks otherwise. Fifty? Does she look that old? Fuck’s sakes. Karolina isn’t even that wrinkly, and she has only just started to grey, a few scattered pale hairs amid dark brown that she yanks out with tweezers whenever she spots them.

“So not before I was born, then. After?” Shiv settles her elbows on her knees again, she looks like she’s gnawing on the inside of her cheek, and Karolina rolls her eyes. The idea of Gerri and Logan fucking makes Karolina want to vomit, though she knows it’s never happened, and she checks her watch very pointedly, though it doesn’t seem to be encouraging Shiv to get out.

“Your dad has never had sex with Gerri.” Karolina says, wiping an invisible smudge off the glass face with her sleeve, and Shiv huffs a sigh of relief. The low light of the lamps make her hair glow red, strands of gold catching the light, and Karolina studies her for a moment, the line of her jaw and the bridge of her nose, a few freckles scattered on her soft cheeks, and remarks to herself, for neither the first or last time, that Shiv truly is beautiful.

“Small fucking mercies. So, what is it?”

“I really can’t tell you that.”

“Sex scandal. Who diddles kids? Gerri’s husband?” Shiv’s eyes are practically glowing, alight with some long-hidden desire for secrets, gossip, any information she can find, and Karolina just barely resists the urge to roll her eyes back into her head. Shiv really should work in PR instead of trying to worm her way into the CEO position, she loves whispers and everything Karolina deals in, and Karolina sort of likes having information Shiv doesn’t.

“No one is diddling kids, Siobhan. Christ.” That Karolina knows of, anyways. Barely legal girls, sure, but not children. Karolina would sooner quit her job than cover up anyone pulling that kind of shit. Baird, Gerri’s dead husband, was weird and fairly gross, but he wasn’t a pedo, and Shiv knows that.

“But you could cover it up if they did, right?” Shiv asks, straightening her shoulders, and she leans back in her seat, stretching her legs out in front of her and crossing her ankles. This seems incredibly excessive for a fairly simple cover-up, so clearly Shiv doesn’t want this getting out at all, and Karolina drums her nails on her desk again.

“I could. Do you have any plans to diddle kids that I should know about?”

“None that you need to be aware of.”

“Fills me with confidence.” Karolina sighs, and Shiv gives her a fairly disgruntled look that makes Karolina want to kick her in the shins. Karolina brings her hands to her face, rubbing her temples, and Shiv scoffs, watching her with a bit more intensity than Karolina thinks she realizes.

“Jesus, do you ever lighten up?” Shiv sounds not quite amused and not quite annoyed, her voice filled with something in between that drips from every word, and Karolina ignores the bite of her desk against the small of her back. Karolina isn’t exactly known for lightening up, it’s not her strong suit, and she pushes some hair off her face and levels her gaze.

“It’s past midnight, Shiv. I’m tired. Do you need anything else?” Karolina says, and Shiv pushes herself to her feet, rolling her shoulders as if she’s just finished a marathon. They’re the same height when Karolina leans back against her desk, almost exactly, and they’re close together now, if Karolina shifted forwards their knees would bump together. Karolina doesn’t know whether to like it or not, this closeness, the warmth of Shiv’s body near her own, and Shiv’s eyes dart down to Karolina’s mouth for a moment before returning to her own.

“Mm, a good fuck? A drink? Maybe some Xanax if you’re offering.” Shiv tilts her head, red hair sliding along her shoulder, and Karolina lets Shiv move closer until they’re practically sharing breath. She has two earrings in each ear, small gold hoops, and Karolina wants to sink her teeth into Shiv’s earlobe and feel cool metal against her lips.

“I can only provide you with one of those things.” Karolina says, quietly, cutting her eyes to the slitted blinds covering the windows, and Shiv smiles with no humour, the expression nothing short of glacial as she surveys Karolina’s face. Shiv never seems to smile with genuine interest, her smiles are always cold and dead and vacant, and Karolina doesn’t know why she thought maybe this would be different.

“Oh, lovely. Can I guess which?”

Shiv kisses Karolina before she answers, practically crushing their mouths together in a clash of teeth and tongue and waxy lipstick and the faint taste of spearmint gum at the back of Shiv’s throat. Karolina kisses her back, hard, letting Shiv press her back into the hard edge of the desk and grabs Shiv by the waist, digging her fingers into Shiv’s flesh until she’s positive Shiv will bruise. She wants Shiv to bruise. She wants Tom to see the marks on her skin, to know Shiv was with another person, and it’s Karolina who pulls away first, chest heaving as she takes a long gulp of air.

“This feels inappropriate.” Karolina says, breathing hard, and Shiv barks half a laugh. Her laugh isn’t as perfect as the rest of her, it’s sharp and harsh and sobering, and Karolina wants to lick it out of her mouth and taste it on her tongue. Her lipstick is smudged, just slightly, and there’s a pink flush high on her cheeks and a smear of peach-coloured paint visible on her chin that Karolina knows came from her own mouth.

“Why?” Shiv is still pinning her against the desk, their hips slotted together and chests not quite touching, and Karolina wants to shove her away and drag her closer and she settles for neither, breathing in the smell of Shiv’s perfume as she studies her lips. Shiv’s perfume is vaguely citrus-scented, it smells expensive and overly luxe and the kind of thing that Shiv would bathe in just to prove she can, because she’s rich and she’s spoiled and she gets whatever she wants when she wants it.

“I work for you.” Karolina leaves her hands where they are, holding Shiv’s waist tight, and Shiv leans forwards, practically bending Karolina back over her desk as she braces both palms on either side of Karolina’s hips and presses a messy, vicious kiss to Karolina’s jaw. Nothing Shiv does is nice, she’s not kind or sweet or gentle, and Karolina likes it about her, likes that she doesn’t do what’s expected of her, and Shiv nips at Karolina’s earlobe sharply as she speaks.

“You don’t, though. You said so yourself. You work for Waystar.” Shiv punctuates her words with teeth to Karolina’s throat, just below her ear, and Karolina pushes her hips into Shiv’s with a fractured sound clawing its way from between her lips. Shiv is right, and Karolina hates the idea that Shiv is right, and she digs her nails into Shiv’s waist over her turtleneck as the best form of punishment she can manage.

“You are Waystar. Your name is on the building.” Karolina pushes her thigh between Shiv’s legs, wedging them open as Shiv moves her mouth to the soft skin where Karolina’s neck meets her shoulder and bites down again. She has angry little teeth, biting at Karolina like she’s trying to prove a point, and Karolina slides her hands from Shiv’s waist to her ass and squeezes. Shiv has a great ass, wasted on Tom, and Shiv grins into Karolina’s skin, her lips curving upwards into a bitter smile as she digs her teeth into Karolina’s collarbone.

“Well, you can cover this up. Isn’t that all you’re good for?” Shiv undoes the top button of Karolina’s shirt and kisses the smooth skin she reveals, her nose brushing Karolina’s neck as she does, and Karolina bristles at the implication. She fists Shiv’s hair in one hand, tugging sharply at sleek red locks, and presses her thigh deeper between Shiv’s legs to see if it’ll draw any sort of noise from Shiv’s lips. It doesn’t.

“I’m good for plenty.” Karolina pulls at Shiv’s hair again, nails digging into Shiv’s scalp and forcing her head back, and Shiv’s expression is unreadable and startling and Karolina releases her, leaving Shiv’s hair tousled artfully as though she’d styled it that way. Shiv lifts an eyebrow, that indecipherable expression giving way to a smirk, and she pops another button, the top of Karolina’s white lace bra coming into view. It’s fairly boring, Karolina doesn’t wear her expensive lingerie to work, but Shiv runs a thumb over the scalloped edge and dips the tip of her finger beneath.

“I think I’ll need some proof before I’m willing to believe it.” Shiv says, and Karolina kisses her with all the rage and venom she can muster, biting down on Shiv’s bottom lip as she slides one hand between them and fumbles with the button of Shiv’s pants. She could push Shiv onto the chair and use her mouth, put Shiv onto her desk and bend her over, but she has a feeling Shiv wants quick and filthy and callous and she’s more than happy to deliver.

Shiv’s panties are silk, thin and slippery and trimmed with lace, and Karolina shoves her hand beneath them, slick heat meeting her fingers as she twists her wrist and presses her thumb into Shiv’s clit hard. Karolina has no interest in kindness right now, maybe Shiv brings that out in her, and she meets very little resistance as she crooks two fingers into Shiv’s cunt. Shiv hisses a breath against Karolina’s throat, groping her over her bra, and Karolina grins faintly and starts to move.

Talking seems unnecessary, so Karolina says nothing, thumbing Shiv’s clit as she fucks her hard and ruthless, holding Shiv’s hip still with her free hand and letting Shiv kiss her neck and her shoulders and occasionally her lips. Anyone could walk in on them right now, a janitor or someone who stayed late at work or a security guard, and Shiv knows it and Karolina knows it and Karolina lets Shiv’s hand slip beneath her bra and feel her skin to skin. Shiv is hot and tight and perfect and entirely wasted on a loser like Tom, he looks like he manages two pumps and then cries when he finishes, and Karolina adds a third finger just to see if Shiv protests.

She doesn’t. Shiv seems to be incapable of weakness, Karolina could probably press her fist into Shiv without hearing a single complaint, and Karolina hisses a breath through her teeth when Shiv pinches her nipple between index finger and thumb and twists hard enough to hurt. Shiv wants her to hurt and Karolina wants Shiv to hurt and she scissors her fingers open, stretching Shiv wide until her knuckles are slick and Shiv bites down on her neck with her free hand circling Karolina’s waist to grab her ass.

They don’t speak. It would ruin whatever this is to speak, so Karolina is silent, working Shiv’s cunt with one hand and gripping her hip with the other, letting Shiv pinch her nipples taut beneath her bra and lave at her neck with a vicious little tongue. She forgets the world around them, forgets everything besides the clench of Shiv’s cunt around her fingers, and Shiv grabs her by the chin and kisses her on the mouth at the same time she comes, smearing lipstick across both of their mouths as she pushes her tongue between Karolina’s teeth and shatters to pieces on Karolina’s hand.

Karolina extracts her hand from Shiv’s panties, now damp and sticky, and Shiv leans back, letting Karolina straighten up and take a deep, shuddering breath. They look at each other for a moment, steely gaze on steely gaze, and Shiv’s fingers dip down to Karolina’s trousers, starting to undo the button before Karolina catches her wrist and shakes her head. It’s not like she isn’t wet, because she is, alarmingly so, but she doesn’t want Shiv’s hands in her pants and she doesn’t want Shiv to make her come and she doesn’t quite know why, only that the idea fills her with dread.

“Suit yourself.” Shiv says, shrugging, and Karolina tugs a tissue from the box on her desk and sets about cleaning her fingers off. Shiv watches her, doing up the buttons of her pants and tucking her turtleneck back into the waistband neatly, and she smooths her hair down and steals a tissue to fix her lipstick. Businesslike, perfunctory, like she’s just finished a meeting instead of finished on Karolina’s hand, and Karolina wipes her own mouth clean of Shiv’s lipstick and picks her coat up again.

“I’ll deal with Chris.” Karolina says, shrugging her jacket on and meeting Shiv’s eyes. Her heart is racing and her cunt is throbbing but she doesn’t plan on letting Shiv know that, because letting Shiv fuck her would mean Shiv ripping out her organs and eating them raw, leaving her bloody and broken on the floor, and Shiv tucks some hair behind her ear and looks at Karolina for a moment.

“Guess I owe you two favours now.” Shiv finishes tucking her shirt into her pants and Karolina wasn’t expecting a thank you, expecting a thank you from Shiv Roy is like expecting kindness from a snake, but it still stings a little. “Have a good night.”

Shiv is gone before Karolina can answer, the door of Karolina’s office closing silently behind her, and Karolina puts her head in her hands and heaves a sigh that’s so loud the people on the sidewalk below can probably hear her. Well, fuck.