Nov 12, 2022, 8:30:20 PM
"First of all I wasn't wearing this when I got here!" She pinched the cotton fabric of the T-shirt Catherine had "let her borrow" and stretched it until it snapped back against her body.
"Is that… a question?"
"Where are my clothes?" Natsumi asked more directly giving her a sour expression.
"Oh, they're in the other room. I washed them. We were both pretty filthy."
"You…" Natsumi stared at her. "Took my clothes off?"
Catherine let her glasses slide seductively down the bridge of her nose and looked at her over the rim. Her blond tresses fell over her face and she bit her lip. "Is that a problem?"
"You saw me naked!"
Natsumi contorted her face and stared at her in disbelief.
"You were out for three days!"
Natsumi mouthed "three days" and counted them on her fingers just to make sure she heard it right. "Wait, am I still in magical girl form?"
"Oh no, I untransformed you once I stripped you bare." Catherine smirked. "And if those are your street clothes, we seriously have to talk about your fashion sense or lack of it…"
"You stripped me naked twice?"
Catherine nodded. "Oh, don't flatter yourself. It's nothing I haven't seen before. And besides how else was I supposed to bathe you?"
"B, bathe?" She sounded like a child, stunned that such things as baths existed.
"Yes, shampooed, lathered, massaged and scrubbed alllll over" — Catherine stretched her hands out on the bed covers and splayed her fingers and pushed them towards Natsumi in a playful matter. Natsumi recoiled from them and nearly fell backwards off the bed.
For fun, Catherine scratched her fingers against the covers. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes in mock contentment to tease the poor girl some more —"then rinsed, and we luxuriously soaked in my tub. You were pressed up against me the whoooole time."
"The. Wh-wh-whole. Time." Her voice went dry and husky.
Catherine narrowed her eyes. This really was a lot of fun. When she met Natsumi, she got the sense that she liked to push people's buttons, but now she had her on the receiving end of it, and it flustered her to no end.
"You certainly weren't able to do it yourself." Catherine sat diagonal to Natsumi on the edge of the bed and crossed her legs. "But, if your concern is, mmm, any funny business… I'd have to invoice you. Consider the bath a complimentary service, in the service, of our new partnership."
Natsumi bared her teeth like a cornered dog. Oh, and that word.
"Oh right, that…" Natsumi said.
Not only was it the title of this chapter, but Catherine saw that Natsumi hated it. Natsumi shifted her weight as she slipped against the edge of the bed and turned to face away from Catherine.
Catherine enjoyed watching her large doe eyes searching the room and ceiling looking for a place to comfortably rest. She smiled examining her blushing cheeks. She knew that nowhere was safe for Natsumi to simply stare and contemplate. Not her "garden of plastic cacti", not the nakked monochrome paintings hanging on the wall opposite her field of view, and especially not the rack of leather bondage clothing standing behind her head.
Natsumi's gaze eventually fell upon the broken window with a tarp over it. "The mutt." She tsk'ed having finally settled on something to scrutinize with all her loathing.
Catherine cleared her throat. "Yes."
Catherine slid across the bed and snuggled close to her new partner, arm draped over her shoulder. She had her phone out and found the livestream recording. They watched it together. She heard herself cheerfully talking about her new puppo friend and then listened as the growling started. She turned to check Natsumi's expression, but the girl remained blank and quiet as she watched the video.
Catherine cringed hearing herself transforming over the video. "Aww… fudge pops!"
The phone managed to catch Catherine tied in her own whip. She sighed while watching herself struggle with the leather whip. The whole time it was wrapped around the heel of her boot.
Natsumi laughed and snorted.
But as the fight between herself and the demon dog intensified, Natsumi's expression changed. The malicious mutt snapped its jaw at Catherine's face. The horns that had grown out nearly gored her several times. Even Catherine's eyes opened wide as she watched how close to a brutal maiming she nearly received. The dog bolted from her grasp and shot through the window. When it happened on the video, Natsumi glanced up at the actual window.
"…and that's what happened." Catherine said putting her phone away.
"That's the pup alright," Natsumi said. "When Mizu-chan and myself ran into him in the park, he had two heads, but after some fetch he fell asleep and I exorcised him. I left him in the park. I didn't think he was dangerous anymore." She turned back towards the broken window."
"Then you understand why we can't let him roam free."
"So…" Catherine didn't want to say it again. She didn't want to be the only one to bring up the idea of the partnership. To do so would make her look weak. It would reinforce that the idea of their partnership was her's and her's alone. She needed buy-in from Natsumi or they would never be able to work together to find this pup. And, honestly she didn't want to put the blame on Natsumi's feet either. She did what she thought was right. Catherine had to believe that or why go out of the way to save the pup?
Catherine cleared her throat. "So."
"So?" Natsumi shot back.
"Natsumi…." Catherine extended her hand. Just acquiesce already! She thought to herself. And don't leave me hanging, you idiot!
It seemed to pain the girl to answer her with an affirmative response. Catherine felt around for the pair of handcuffs tucked between the mattress and bedframe. If it came to that, there were other ways to make her say "yes."
"Fine," Natsumi said. "We'll work together. Can we get food now?" Natsumi said, her arm rested on Catherine's shoulder now and she applied her own weight against her.
"Sure, but let's shake on it first," Catherine retorted.
"What??" Natsumi shouted. "Was rubbing down my entire naked body not enough for you?"
"Oh my, never."