Disclaimer: This is an Uber tale relating to my Kink series so no need to disclaim the dark and deadly 'un and the bard. This story doesn't feature explicit f/f sex but implies to such indecent activities and does feature references to somewhat kinkier stuff as well (big surprise there...). No spoilers whatsoever. Serving suggestion: garnish with a dry martini (with a twist, no olive), enjoy in peace and quiet.

Occamís Razor
© Penumbra 1999

All happy families are alike; every unhappy family
is unhappy in its own way.

-- Tolstoy: Anna Karenina --

The bookís scent was that of acrid inexpensive ink and pulp-heavy, old paper. The pages were surprisingly thick, the typeface small and very old-fashioned with its heavy, flourishing serifs and uneven margins. It had been a whim, a moment of serendipity that had brought the volume into her hands.

Setting down the tome no-one with a serious literary fetish dared call arid, she leaned back in the chair, shivering momentarily as the cool webbing moulded itself around her back.

Tolstoy was one of the few Russian masters she could read without falling asleep. Tracing a finger around the frayed edge of the cheap paperback, she recalled the chilly, wet November day a few years back. She had taken shelter at the bookstore, to have a momentís respite from the merciless sleet that pounded the streets of London with the fury of divine vengeance. The store had possessed the same air of academia, the scent of dust and human knowledge tickling at the back of her throat, as all good bookstores. Sauntering aimlessly between the high, silent shelves filled with the food of the mind, she had found herself drawn to the classics, each old and famous title bringing to mind memories of a youth she no longer recognised as hers, seeing a woman enamored by history, not living in today but wishing for tomorrow.

Somehow, in her quest to read what the world had to offer, she had overlooked Anna Karenina. She had tackled Milton at the age of fourteen; his disturbed visions of a paradise not unlike a hell had led to Dante, and to the darkest mind ancient literature had to offer. Poe had touched a vibrant chord in her, Shakespeare only in his most lucid, vivid moments. Perversely, it had been one of the latterís less-recognised verses that she had come to know by heart.

"Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?" she whispered into the quiet air of the study, glancing towards her dog-eared Macbeth. It had been her first lesson of humanityís fragile nature and of the great works of the bard; a tale of death and betrayal, of great storytelling and of the art of tragedy. Time had taught her integity, literature had given her a perspective on it.

Rotating the chair half a turn, she came to face the quietly humming screen of her computer. It was dark; so engrossed had she been with the book she had become oblivious to the world of computers. Anna Karenina rested next to the keyboard and once again she wondered, in mute amazement and with the shallow comprehension of homo electronica, the mechanised man, how literary masterpieces had managed to see the light of day only with the help of a pen, some ink and paper. Or perhaps that is where the secret lies, her mind supplied. The work.

To do things with her hands was very natural to her. Gazing down at her hands, she traced the lines of her palms with a gentle eye, enjoying the simple, straight lines of her long, tapered fingers. Devoid of any ornament, the hands were a sculpture of flesh and sinew, pregnant with implied power. They were the hands she worked with, the hands that provided her with the ability to do things her mind couldnít do on its own. The hands loved, possessed the talent of imparting pain, and reflected the emotions her heart held. Folding one hand into a fist, she watched the veins in her forearm appear, and the thick, strong muscles at the elbow tremble as a result of the undue strain the nightís love had put on them.


She neednít look; she knew. The disheveled fair hair, the warmth, the connection. The unconscious happy smile, the sweat and the slippery skin, curled up on the lube-sticky sheets of the bed two rooms down the hall. In the midnight penumbra of the study she could almost see the connection, the silvery thread of fate that bound them together. Their marriage was unholy, its signet one of pain and charred flesh, its fleshbound being hanging probity in effigy. But it was the nature of their emotions; the current of passion was entwined in their wild nature, the stream of heat as dark as her soul.

It had been two days since it had happenedÖ

Delaneyís hands had shaken. Oh, how they had trembled.

The pliers had thick rubber grips, scabrous from extensive use, but her palms had been slick from sweat. She brushed a moist strand of blonde hair away from her eyes and shifted her grip. The piece of metal the pliers held glowed faintly red.

"You ready?" the detective asked, her voice trembling slightly, as did the pliers.

"Yes, love," Ghislaine answered, a light tone of laughter in her voice. She brushed aside her long mane of midnight black hair, baring a broad back that was muscular to the point of perfection, the bronze skin marred by a few thin white scars. Bowing her head, she made sure her tongue was not between her teeth, and closed her eyes.

The touch of the steel edge left a streak of white pain on her skin. The dark woman squeezed her eyes tighter shut and breathed out slowly, letting the pain extend its fiery tendrils along her back. The flash of searing heat dissipated quickly as her nerve endings shut down in shock at the overload. The low stool she was sitting on, however, groaned in stress when her reflexes kicked in. All that kept her from turning and aiming a lethal left hook at her lover was her firm grip on the thick wood of the seat.

The detectiveís gentle, misty green eyes had a fiercely focused look as she set the wide V-shaped piece of metal back on the hot cooking plate. It reeked of sulphur and other impurities but even that scent was drowned out by the sickening smell of burning flesh. Dellaís nostrils twitched at the smell but she knew it would vanish soon. She just hadnít remembered how pungent it was in such close confines.

Poking at the metal with the pliers, she saw it was ready. She picked it up and touched Ghislaineís smooth skin again with it. One, two, three, and it was off. She put the piece into a bucket of water to cool it down, and set the final piece, a steel strip in the shape of a perfect circle, on the cooking plate.

When the final piece in the puzzle of pain was pressed onto her skin, the dark woman didnít even flinch. Again, she breathed out slowly when the worst of the pain hit her, half a second after the metal touched her. She was familiar with pain, it having been her constant companion for so many years. Sometimes, it had been the only thing that had convinced her she was still alive, and so she regarded pain as her friend, a demanding lover. Like all friends, it was capable of lifting her to the seventh heaven, and also of shoving her into the darkest of pits in Hell.

And like one should a good lover, she tolerated the multiple forms it took, embracing them -- for wasnít multiplicity the highest manifestation of evolution?

"All done," the blonde woman said, and put the circular piece into the bucket. The metal hissed loudly when it hit the water, protesting the abuse. Getting out a small jar of aloe lotion, she spread it liberally over the angry red marks. Water blisters were already forming on the first burn and Della estimated it wouldnít be long before the thing started to itch. Hers had itched so badly she had thought she would die. The aloe lotion had helped some, but she had gnawed her knuckles to blood many times during the first three days, to keep from scratching herself.

The dark woman straightened up and flexed her shoulders. Not bad. There was just a minor pulling but nevertheless, sheíd have to be careful for the first few days. She turned in her seat and smiled up towards the sweaty, tentatively smiling face of her lover.

"My fire," Ghislaine whispered and kissed her loveís palm. Gently, sweetly.

Like a hood of copper dust, a halo of smog and city lights hung over the London sky. She had not seen the stars for so long she couldnít even remember, the memory of the white specks of the sky melting into the reality of urban occupation. You paid a price for living in the artery of human life on Earth, losing some but winning much. To her surprise, Ghislaine had found out she didnít miss the stars that much.

"Whatíre you doing up?" A quiet, sleep-hoarse whisper came from the bedroom door and the dark woman, standing motionless by the high window, turned. The crimson cruel light of the midnight city caught her moist lips, making them shine in an even darker shade of red.

"Was here thinking. And reading," she whispered back to her love, gesturing towards the book still resting calmly on the desk. She hadnít touched it for over an hour, but instead had just been there, staring into nothingness, pondering.

The brand was the seal of her love, the sign of the lock on her heart whose key was in the gentle hands of the woman leaning against the doorframe, watching her with half-slumbering eyes. She neednít look; she knew. Their colour was the shade only the deepest of forests held, a muted, hazel green of eternal patience. Gesturing quietly, Ghislaine beckoned her love closer, until the smaller body nestled in front of her, warm skin against her breasts.

"Do you ever wonder?"

"About what?" Della mumbled, sleep still heavy in her tones.

"About us. About what we have," Ghislaine hummed, flexing the tired muscles in her back. The new keloid at her shoulderblade was itching and pulling, but it wasnít too bad. It was a constant reminder of what she had gotten herself into this time, of the plunge into nothingness she had taken. And most surprisingly, she felt profound happiness at the step they had taken. Bound by soul, now bound in flesh as well. It scared her beyond belief.

"No, not really. IÖ" the detective trailed off, shifting in the embrace. "I try not to dwell on it."

"Why not?"

Della smiled at the quiet question. Ever the scientist, she gently chided her lover in her mind. "Because Iím afraid of what the answer to the questions How? and Why? would be. But I donít feel I need to find an answer."

"Why not?" Ghis repeated, the soft syllables purring deep withing her throat.

"Occamís razor. The simplest answer is that I donít need to have one," Della answered. A quiet chuckle travelled through Ghisí frame and she turned the smaller woman around in her arms.

"Sneaky you," Ghis purred and caught her loveís rosy lips with hers. And in that kiss she knew the answer to her enigma: she didnít need the stars, for she had her heaven right there, in that dark, warm room.

-- The End --

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