Conduit

by Scalar7th

Tags: #cw:noncon #exhibitionism #sub:female

I heard Tempest from the living room, growling in frustration.

I could understand her feeling. I felt like I was banging my head against the creative wall, too.

She strummed her guitar again. And again. Normally I liked listening to my roommate write her songs, it helped encourage my own creative instincts. But when she got writer's block, it seemed, so did I. It was like it wasn't just our monthly visitors that were synchronizing (yes, that's a myth, I know, but it was funny to me, so shut up). If you've ever tried to do proper 3D modelling of a tree while your old college friend is in the other room playing the same two chords over and over again on an acoustic guitar while repeatedly humming and whispering random words to herself, you might have an idea of what I was going through in that moment.

Neither of us were getting anywhere and it was extremely clear, at least to me.

"Fuck it," I said, getting up and stretching. "Hey, Tempie," I shouted.

"Yeah, Lyric?"

Irony of ironies, that I had the poetic name while she was the singer/songwriter.

"I'm sick of this stupid apartment and I wanna go for a drive." I walked out into the living room where Tempest was lounging in her underwear, her guitar across her chest and a notepad on the table beside her. Her short dark hair was splayed semi-randomly over the cushion behind her, with some of the bright blue at the back of her head visible. The whorls and geometric designs that she insisted were old celtic symbols that were tattoed on her arms, upper chest, and belly were clearly visible, their black lines and swirls standing out against her white skin.

She looked at me with serious grey eyes. "You havin' as much luck as me?"

"Probably worse," I admitted. "I can't get a fuckin' thing done."

She sat up. "Alright. Drive?"

"Drive," I agreed. "When's your next show?"

"Saturday. Three nights away." She put the guitar in its stand and stood up.

"Maybe I'll actually go to this one," I said, turning back to get a sweater on. We had one car between the two of us, and it sucked, but it served its purpose fine. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. The downside was that I had to drive it, because Tempest couldn't drive a manual transmission.

"Ha ha," she said snarkily, heading towards her bedroom. "What, you don't have a date?"

"Actually I don't," I said. Unusual for me to be free, for sure, whether it was because I had an actual date or because I'd gone home to my parents' for the weekend. I liked catching Tempest's sets on open mic night when I could. She was really good at what she did, far as I knew; unfortunately, what she did—original folk-style songs on a heavy electric guitar with a strong punk infusion (to use her description)—didn't have that big of an audience, so it was open mic nights and occasional invites from a local band or two to be an opening act.

"Well hopefully I'll see you there, then," she said, closing the door. Don't know why she bothered, she was only going to put on clothes and I'd already seen her in her underwear. Habits, I guess.

I went back to my own room to slip on a sweater. It was winter, snow was falling, it was dark. My car had working heat, but only barely, enough to keep the windows from frosting over. I also grabbed my purse, expecting that we'd stop and get a drink somewhere or something.

I looked at the crappy tree on my computer screen. "Fuck," I said. It was just for me, trying to make an idea I had, of a tree that was a home for an ancient forest god. Right now, it just looked like a tree. A crummy tree. I made pretty pictures just for myself, and a few watchers on the pretty picture website I was a member of. Tough to do when balancing a day job in a government office mail room, but I got about one decent project out every month, that was plenty. At least I wasn't selling flowers, working retail and having to cover up my tattoos with large long-sleeved shirts twelve months of the year, like a certain roommate of mine (I don't actually have any tattoos, for the record).

"Where are we going?" Tempest asked as we met up again by the door to our apartment, grabbing our coats.

"Fucked if I know," I said. "Anywhere you wanna go?"

She shrugged. "Out of town would be cool, if you feel okay with it."

"Yeah, so long as we stick to the highway."

"Perfect. I wanna see some trees."

So did I. That worked out nicely. We took the elevator together down to the parkade in silence, and hopped into the car. It was quiet, as you might expect from 8:42 PM on a Wednesday night, and we headed out pretty quickly. I hit the main road towards the edge of town and travelled at just over the speed limit, keeping my focus on the road. Tempest hummed a bit of a melody, but I could still hear the frustration in her voice. We were crossing the ring road at nine and were headed out into the dark of the unlit highway. One of our usual drives took us out towards a nearby provincial park, with dense boreal forest on rocky hills. It could be extremely inspirational. We never went that far into it, the roads weren't the best even in the summer, but just being surrounded by trees was such a nice feeling.

Or at least it was. Until my car stalled out.

"Shit," I said.

"What is it?" Tempest asked.

I threw my hands in the air. "Beats the hell outta me. I just gassed it up yesterday. It was running fine this morning."

Tempest reached into the inner pocket of her jacket and pulled out her phone. "Fuck. No signal."

I quickly grabbed mine. Didn't surprise me to see it was also showing no bars.

"Well, now what?" Tempest asked me.

I turned the key in the ignition a couple times. Nothing. I shrugged. "Warm enough in here, we should be able to survive until morning and find help when it's light out, right?"

She didn't seem happy with that. "Yeah, yeah. Guess that's it, then."

"I remember my time in Girl Guides."

Tempest scoffed. "Lucky you?"

"I mean possibly." I shrugged. I sat up a bit and worked my arms out of my winter coat, spinning it around me so it could act more like a blanket. I could see Tempest doing the same in the dim light. "Might get us through the night."

She grunted something in reply. I think she was looking out the window at the sky. I tried doing the same. I thought about my tree model that just wasn't doing what I wanted. It seemed very far away at that moment, but also something that didn't really matter in the darkness. I wasn't worried. I was secure in my little bubble, warm (somewhat, at least for the moment) and safe from the outside. I think I started to drift off, because the next thing I remember, and it had to be sometime later, was Tempest opening her door.

"Hm?" I said, sounding sleepy even to myself. "Don't go out..."

"Lyric, either I go out now or I piss myself, alright? I've been holding it and trying to sleep for an hour now. Look, I won't even get lost." She held up her phone with its flashlight function on. "It's barely snowing, and we're parked right under power lines. I'll just follow the lines, squat in the bush, and follow them back, alright?"

It was my turn to grunt incoherently. Whatever, if she wanted to freeze to death she could at least get out of the car quickly so I didn't have to freeze too.

I think I dozed off again, because I woke up sometime later, when Tempest didn't come back to the car.

It's weirdly unnerving when you wake up because of the absence of something. When you sort of drift out of sleep because you're not hearing your alarm, or because someone who was supposed to call you didn't, or ... I don't know, one of a thousand other possible reasons. I woke up because I had been expecting to hear Tempest open her door and settle back into her chair, and that didn't happen.

I looked over at the passenger seat. Something seemed odd, so I picked up my phone and looked over in the glow of the screen.

Tempest had left her coat behind. And her shoes. And socks.

My friend was out there with no coat and nothing on her feet.

"This is stupid," I said, instantly opening my door. "I should stay here and wait for her to get back."

And yet, I went out into the gently falling snow and the calm, quiet night, phone in hand for light, to try and rescue Tempest before she froze solid.

I did what she said she would do: followed the power lines. The way was fairly clear, and the snow was solid, if deep. The light fluff that was dropping from the sky went mostly unnoticed. For a bit, I tried to use my flashlight function to find footprints, but that proved futile, and I soon just shut it off and used the light of the full moon—surprisingly bright when reflecting off the snow—to follow the path Tempest told me she would take.

I called her name. I felt warm. There was no wind, which was nice. The moonlight seemed to be reflecting heat, not just light, which felt unusual, but not concerning. I hardly realized that I had opened my coat. A moment later, I was relieved to see a figure standing in a clearing, a shadow against the bright ground. Very relieved to see the figure standing, and not flat on the ground.

"Tempest?" I said, and the figure moved. Turned.

She stepped closer. More into the light.

I gasped.

There was my roommate, my friend of seven or eight years, whatever it was, stand in the softly falling snow, in the silver light of the moon, in the middle of winter. Naked. Completely, utterly, totally nude.

I was warm, but I sure wasn't that warm. Tempest didn't seem to be the least bit uncomfortable, either physically with the cold or emotionally with just... being naked in front of me. I could see all her tattoos in the moonlight: the spiky, dragon-serpent-inspired figure at her collar; the geometric bands over her arms; the wing-like design just above her perfectly-shaved pussy.

I got warmer as she approached, and not the warmth of embarrassment. It was as if the strange heat from the moon was getting more intense. I felt myself starting to sweat.

Tempest didn't say a word to me. I wanted to ask so many questions, but I couldn't seem to speak, either. She just knelt down and started to untie my shoes. Dazed, I stepped out of them and let her pull my socks off my feet.

The snow felt soft, warm, and dry, under my feet. It didn't make sense, but also, I didn't ask it to.

Tempest's hands drifted up and slid my sweat pants down along with my panties, all in one calm motion. I stepped out of my clothes, bare from the waist down, and has a flash of self-consciousness, comparing my flabby thighs and unkempt bush to hers, but she didn't make any comment. At any rate, our relationship had never been sexual, and this didn't feel sexual either. It felt like something... deeper, something more significant than girl-sex between friends. Something more than physical.

Tempest continued, standing up, slipping my jacket from my shoulders and letting it fall on the ground, then, with my help, pulling my sweater over my head. The moonlight gave the blue in her hair an etherial glow. Knowing what was expected now, I took my own t-shirt off and undid my bra, letting it fall.

And throughout, despite being more and more exposed, I was feeling warmer and warmer.

Her grey eyes pierced into mine, and we breathed together. She took my hands.

She spoke.

She said a Name, but it wasn't just the word that mattered. The Name was bound up in the way she said it, the stance she held as she spoke, the tone and inflection of her voice, the exact amount of pressure on my hands, even the exact distance we stood apart. Any single part, any one element just wasn't enough, but could still convey something, like looking at the top corner of a selfie and trying to recreate the entire outfit that the person was wearing. The combination, though, offered an Understanding, something I'd never really felt as I had before.

I nodded, though it wasn't necessary. Tempest knew that I knew. And she turned and stood beside me. I put my arm across her shoulders, she put hers across around my waist, and we stood there, in the freezing air, naked, side by side, watching the moon. Neither of us so much as shivered.

The Name rang in my mind, in the glow of the moon. I could tell it was doing the same for Tempest. The Name kept us warm, kept us comfortable, kept us together.

We stood there until the moon passed from view below the trees, and then...

Then, I don't know. There's a gap there, in my awareness, in my memory. I woke up in my bed, on top of the covers, still naked. I felt refreshed, like I'd had an incredible sleep. For some reason, in my mind, I had the funny image in my head of the two of us driving home naked except for our coats, riding the elevator up together still in just our outerwear, giggling all the way. The idea made me laugh.

I looked over at my computer. I moved over to it, sitting down in the office chair and waking up the machine, and instantly started working on the project that had me so stuck. Progress came quickly and easily, with the Name ringing in my mind. I was about ten minutes into some huge improvements when I heard the sound of a guitar from the living room.

I stuck my head out the door. Tempest lounged there in the dim light of a single floor lamp, her guitar across her chest, naked, playing beautifully.

I could feel the sound of the Name under the strumming.

She saw me, standing naked in my doorway, and she smiled. She started singing, a wordless 'ooh,' a folky melody of the sort she was so good at writing, and the Name was there, too, in her voice, in her tune.

I stood transfixed, mesmerized. Amazed. I could barely breathe, until she had finished.

"Are you...?" I began.

She nodded. "I'll debut it Saturday night." She smirked. "Won't be a huge crowd, but—"

"They'll Understand."

"They will."

We didn't need to say anything more. I went back to my computer. I had an image to make, one that would be infused with the Name, as well, like Tempest's song. I knew what we needed to tell the world. Some people would hear it, some would see it, some would find other ways to Understand. But soon, a lot of people would know what we knew, and it would be amazing and wonderful. And whatever ancient entity, whatever being we had come to know... We would spread their message as far and wide as we could, through Tempest's music and through my art.

I threw myself into my work with renewed passion. I knew it would be amazing. And that I would have inspiration for years to come.

x3

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