a prison, a body

ii. rowan. want implies want

by gargulec

Tags: #cw:sexual_assault #D/s #drones #pov:bottom #sub:female #transgender_characters #bondage #exhibitionism #sadomasochism
See spoiler tags : #robots #scifi

Although Rowan called Helen her friend, it would be more accurate to say that she saw her as ideal. They met back during the university years, bonding over annoying professors and onerous coursework. But unlike Rowan, who clung to the safety of lecturing halls and office hours, Helen could barely stand their dusty atmosphere at the best of times. Fiercely smart and independent in her own way, she had an activist heart and a deep-seated dislike of the pettiness of campus politics. But if there was a demonstration to attend, she would be marching in the front. If there was a need to organize, she was the one asked to get people together. She part-timed in feminist NGOs and wrote about her many causes with hope and conviction that it will all be worth it some day. In everything she did, she carried herself with confidence - not a self-satisfied swagger, but rather the committed dedication of someone why just couldn’t let things stand the way they are. She also had her arms sleeved up to the shoulders in floral tattoos, never failed to look bad in a buzzcut and strutted about in steel-toed army boots like a career butch. In short, every time they were together, Rowan could scarcely tell if she liked her, lusted after her or just wanted to be her.

Also presently, she was sitting opposite Rowan in a chic cafe, face filled with concern and wrapping up giving voice to all the reasonable concerns that Rowan had done her best to repress and sweep under aroused excitement.

“All that I am saying,” she stressed, drinking the last of the coffee and putting the cup back on the saucer, “is that I just don’t get what you’re getting out of it.”

Instead of responding, Rowan kept on nervously turning an empty glass between the palms of her hands. She looked around the busy cafe, carefully avoiding her friend, as if she could just wait her friend out. In hunger and anxiety, her thoughts felt too slow and sluggish to gather them. Yesterday, she expected to be spirited away instantly, the moment she signed the papers. She counted on that, of having the worry taken out of her hands. But instead, they just sent her back home, ordered to return on the next day, on an empty stomach and drinking nothing but water in-between. Like for a blood test. And so, there she was, sinking into cushions on a wire-frame chair, killing time alongside her best friend in an overly expensive cafe right across the street from the Galatea Corporation building.

When she asked Helen out in the morning, she thought it was going to be just a quick thing, a way to say goodbye, maybe laugh about getting fucked silly one last time. In hindsight, it was an obvious mistake. Helen had no desire to encourage her. She came here to lecture.

“Fine, you want to be roughly handled, I can get that,” she continued after a moment of silence. “People can be like that sometimes, fair enough, not here to judge,” she shrugged. “But you are not an idiot, so you must know that there’s a sea of difference between having your partner spank you a bit or call you a slut in bed, and outright selling yourself into slaver to a fucking porno-capitalist empire!”

“Please don’t shame me,” Rowan replied quietly, still unwilling to look her in the eyes.

“And please don’t give me this tumblr crap,” she snapped back. She had a sharp voice, well accustomed to shouting and ordering people about. “I’m not kinkshaming you, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with you, Rowan. I know how much they pay. It’s not untold riches. You’d make two thirds of that just by staying at the unit and continuing your work.”

“I go there,” Rowan murmured, finally putting the glass down, “and it’s all inclusive. I don’t pay rent. Insurance. Anything. It adds up, over two years.”

“So, it is just about the money,” Helen pursed her lips. “Since you’re selling yourself out anyway, why not hire yourself to a corporation? Live that middle class dream. We both know you could make it there. And they’re all woke now anyway, so…”

She left her voice hang. Even without looking, Rowan knew the exact expression of concern and frustration that was presently painted on her friend’s face.

“There’s more to it, okay?” she said, sighing quietly. “I’ve seen what their surgeries can do to a body. And I’ve seen the price-tag on it. I’m not gonna make that kind of money in two years, not unless I magically turn into a startup star. And… if I’m theirs, there’s a chance they’ll get me some…,” she paused, briefly mulled over what to say next. The euphemisms tired her. “There’s a chance they’ll give me their surgeries.”

She spat the words out and stared straight at Helen, only to see her smile a morose smile.

“So,” she said, cloyingly empathetic, “you are gambling your freedom away for a chance for at a designer vagina?”

Rowan blushed. That’s not it, she wanted to respond, but there was no arguing that it was as a part of it. In the world of medical technology, Galatea Corporation could as well be wizards, and she dreamed of their magic often.

“Sister,” Helen continued, speaking in this soft tone of consolation that she always put on when Rowan cried her brain out on her shoulder. “Sister, you have it all wrong.”

It still felt good just to listen to this voice. It was calming and reassuring. And yet, there was a false note to it, in the words Helen said, and the words she was about to say.

“You don’t need that,” she gently spoke. “You don’t need any of that to count as a woman, Rowan. You’re one already.”

She inhaled sharply. Words budded and welled up in her throat, angry and hurt. You don’t get it, she wanted to say to her, you’re just too cis to get it. But what she had to offer, other than outrage? What was it that Helen refused to get? She knew that there were answers. She felt like she knew them. But whatever they were, she could never push them past her lips. They always died somewhere in her throat. After all, it wasn’t the first time they had a conversation like that. Nor the second. They never went Rowan’s way.

“Sometimes, I just feel like,” Helen drummed her finger at the edge of the cup, “like it’s looking for love in all the wrong places. Like after all the women’s lib, after everything the trans movement did, you’re still acting as if becoming someone’s perfect submissive fucktoy will validate...…”

“Helen,” Rowan’s voice cracked, just a bit. She felt her nails dig into the flesh of her palms. “Please. Don’t go there.”

Just support me, she wanted to add, but that was too much.

For a moment Helen looked as if she was going to say something angry, but instead she just buried her face in her hands, stifling a quiet grunt of frustration.

“Fine. Fine,” she sighed, straightening. “You’ve made your mind. Can’t stop you. Jesus, sister. You’re - that’s what, two years?”


“Will I be able to visit you?”

“I don’t know,” again, Rowan felt her anxiety and frustration with Helen dissolve into shame. A part of her wanted to get furious at her friend. She came here looking for support, not that sort of advice. But she couldn’t muster that, the same way she couldn't get herself to speak her disagreement. Instead, all she wanted to do was to ask will you be there for me, when I come back? In the broader picture, she didn’t expect to miss that much. Certainly not her family. Probably not her work. Maybe her books. But then, there was Helen.

She glanced at the vintage clock hanging over the vaguely industrial bar.

“I have to go soon. Thank you for…,” she paused. “You know.”

“It’s so stupid, Rowan,” she exhaled, without joy, but also without scorn. “Here,” she opened her muscular arms, and allowed Rowan to sink into a tight hug.

It was so sweet to feel the heat of her body, her breath, the dry scent of her skin, all those little intimate things of closeness. Rowan lingered in the embrace. She was going to miss Helen. What if she moves on, when they are apart? What if she forgets her? What if she doesn’t recognize her? What if it was the last time she could experience her touch, her warmth, her frustrated annoyance with Rowan’s own desires?

“Stay safe out there,” she heard her whisper into her ear, and in spite of all the frustration, she could only feel herself come close to crying.

“See you around,” she blurted without thinking, and snaked herself free of the embrace. She shot a quick glance at the door, the brutalist bulk of the Galatea building outside. “I…,”

It was either going now, right in this instant, or staying, failing all the promises she had made to herself just to please someone else. She looked at Helen pleadingly.

“Shoo, then,” she waved her away. “Off to your destiny you go.”

Rowan swallowed, and grabbed the opportunity as it was offered. She left, trying her best not to look back.

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