Mesmera waited for Galaxy Girl at the door.
Like most of the city, she had breathlessly watched the earlier fight on TV. It was in Uptown- a long way from here- but she had been able to hear the loud noises of battle all the way from their apartment balcony. There was a frantic, terrifying moment after Ka-ra’s team had prevailed where the TV cameras couldn’t find her (”Oh Goddess, what if she’s hurt?” she had thought) before they finally paned over to a moving pile of rubble. Ka-ra eventually emerged from the pile, looking tired and dirty.
Jenn felt herself release a held breath. She had convinced herself that today would be the day that Ka-ra didn’t make it back. She was suddenly glad that her battles were generally not televised. Ka-ra did not know about this part of dating a superhero- the part where you watched them helplessly from home- and she hoped she never would.
Jenn took several more deep breaths. She knew today had shaken her. She needed to take care of Ka-ra- not just for the superbeing’s sake but to reassure herself as well. She needed to do something to help ground them both.
Eventually, a dirty and exhausted Ka-ra walked through the door. She looked at Jenn, expressionless.
Jenn wrapped her up into a long, intense hug- something else she sensed they both needed. She felt a bit of herself calm as Ka-ra slowly relaxed into her arms. That was a good start.
Wordlessly, Jenn handed Ka-ra her favorite post-fight snack- a strawberry smoothie. “Drink,” she said, firmly.
Ka-ra obediently drank about half of the pink concoction. She still wasn’t speaking yet, Jenn noted, but that wasn’t too abnormal after a big battle.
Still, she’d better check. “Ka-ra, do you want to talk about it?”
Ka-ra quickly and decisively nodded her head “NO”. It was the most energetic Jenn had seen her since she had come home.
“OK, finish what you want of your smoothie and then come to the bathroom. I’m going to run you a bath. You have 5 minutes.”
Jenn had just finished filling the bathtub with bubbles and warm water when Ka-ra opened the door. She stood in the doorway staring blankly ahead.
This made Jenn even more reassured of her plan. “Love?” she started. “Take off you clothes and get in the bath. I’ll wash you.”
Slowly and zombie-like, Ka-ra took off her clothes and got into the bathtub. Jenn took a loofah and began to gently wash her back. She could feel Ka-ra’s muscles begin to respond and ease under the warm water.
Jenn leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Don’t worry Ka-ra. I’ll take care of you today. Is that OK?”
Ka-ra nodded, her tension noticeably easing even further.
“Good girl,” Jenn responded. “What’s your safeword?”
“Red,” Ka-ra replied, quietly but firmly.
“Very good,” said Jenn.
As she continued to bathe her girlfriend with slow deliberate movements, Jenn began to speak in her best storytelling voice “You know, when I was growing up with the Artemesians, they had a legend of a beautiful river running through the Golden Valley. It was called the River Lethe. People would come from all over the land to visit the river, to drink its’ pure water, and to bathe in its’ depths.”
She paused, listening to the bathwater swishing around.
“You see,” she said, sending psychic tendrils of peace and relaxation into Ka-ra’s mind, “this river had magical properties. The water was warm and pleasant even on the coldest days. There were tiny bubbles in the water that tickled your skin, making it feel fresh and new.“
“But best of all,” she continued, soothingly “the river was rumored to be magic. It was said by the elders that by bathing in those waters, you could wash your cares away. Your cares and worries would just dissolve down deep into that warm water. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“Mmm,” said Ka-ra, nodding her head lazily.
“You know, people even said that the river could wash someone’s memory away, leaving them clean and new. And of course, the memory wouldn’t be gone forever. It was a temporary effect. It would be like the memory went on vacation. And you would have a bit of a vacation too- not having to think too much, not having to be anything but nicely in the moment. Doesn’t that feel good?”
“Yes,” Ka-ra dreamily responded.
“Good,” said Jenn, swirling her hand in the water. “Some people said it was the bubbles that did it. Like every bubble that popped around a person in the water would also pop a thought out of their head. Every bubble popping would just take a thought with it. I wonder if that would work here. I wonder if you could feel every bubble popping a thought out of your head. Just..like...this.”
Jenn reached her finger into Ka-ra’s field of view and deliberately popped a large bubble that she found there.
“Oooh,” Ka-ra replied in response, her smile becoming hazy.
“Good girl!” said Jenn. “Doesn’t that feel better? Now, I’m going to keep washing you, but I want you to concentrate on those bubbles and how they make your thoughts disappear. Can you do that?”
Jenn continued to bathe her, gently redirecting Ka-ra’s position when she needed to. Ka-ra barely seemed to notice any change. She was keeping her dazed gaze on the bubbles.
Jenn was about to let out the bathwater when she heard a soft “Wait!” She turned her attention back to Ka-ra.
“What is it?” she asked gently.
“My name,” Ka-ra responded, frowning slightly.
Fortunately, Jenn knew her partner well. “Are you having trouble getting rid of that?” she asked.
“Do you want me to take it for the day? So you can only be mine?”
Ka-ra nodded again.
Jenn smiled. “You’re so sweet. OK, feel that knowledge of who you are traveling up up up or down down down through your body to your lips. Feel those lips start to tingle with that knowledge when it gets there, making them more and more sensitive. Can you feel that? Is the knowledge all there now?”
Ka-ra nodded, slightly licking her own lips.
“Good,” Jenn said.
She leaned over and gave Ka-ra a long, possessive kiss. Ka-ra gasped but then relaxed into Jenn’s kiss, letting Jenn entirely take control.
Eventually Jenn pulled back. “All gone?” she asked.
“What’s your name?” Jenn asked, testing.
“Yours,” Ka-ra replied, blissfully.
“That’s exactly right,” Jenn smiled. “Now let’s get you out of this bath and into bed. We’ll have to think of some ways to reward you for being such a good girl.”