The hot water sluicing down his skin, down the tiles and down the drain is nearly hot enough to scald. It’s been a long day, longer now that the most recent shit job in a long list of shit jobs just fired him. He stretches beneath the stream, shoulder popping and scars a familiar tug in his flesh, wondering where he’d find more work.
Though the day had been long and sucked, he was hoping it wouldn’t end badly. He felt a blush suffuse his cheeks that had nothing to do with the heat of the water and shook the drenched hair out of his face. He reached for the shampoo bottle, hesitating as he listened. As he waited.
The familiar squeak and rumble of another shower turning on through the adjoining wall eased the tension in his shoulders as he picked up the shampoo and began slowly lathering his hair.
A note, almost haunting in its tiled echo-chamber and resonant besides, rose as if from the depths of the far-away oceans he’d never seen and wound its siren-song into his welcoming ears. The lyrics were unfamiliar this evening but they had a cadence and tempo, a melody he easily slipped into. He couldn’t sing, not nearly as well as she could, so he let his hands wander slowly through his scalp and the strands of his hair and hummed an alto counterpoint to her tune.
The angelic voice stopped for a moment and laughter like small bells filled the following silence.
“I wondered if you’d join me,” said the feminine voice.
“I like hearin’ ya sing.”
Another laugh, softer this time. “I know.” After a moment she sang again.
He rinsed his hair and realized this was one of the first song’s he’d heard her sing. A haunting tune filled with emotional arias and heartbreak. Echoing the difficult day, he found himself rinsing tears from his face, turning it into the spray.
Tilting his face back down, he leaned his forehead against the cool tile. “Y’alright, girl?”
“Yeah,” a soft echo. Pause, then, “Had a hard day.”
“You too, huh?”
Soft laughter and another pause. “Dad called while I was working today; Sampson died.”
“Were you close?”
She chuckled bitterly. “Yeah. The family dog; grew up with him out on the farm. He was my furry little brother.”
His heart dropped out of his chest at the words, heart aching in echo of her tone. “M’sorry. Wish I could help.”
The sound of the water shifted, became higher-pitched for a moment, like she’d stepped away from the spray, perhaps to get a bottle of conditioner or soap. “That’s sweet of you.”
“Well, you seem like a sweet girl.”
“Thanks.” The water spraying the tile dulled again and he imagined (without trying to picture her at all) that she was once more beneath the warmth. “Not always so sweet though.”
He chuckled. “I’ve heard your rock-ballads.”
“And sang backup for me, thanks”
“Any time I can help.”
“Hmm,” the dulcet tone drifted through the apparently-thin wall, “you can.” He waited, thinking she might elaborate but she didn’t. A soft sigh came from the other side and he wondered if she were crying and asked as much. “Mm-mm,” he could nearly picture her shaking her head in denial and he knew she was telling the truth.
But she’d gotten rather quiet.
“You sure you’re alright in there?”
“No. But I will be; one way or another.”
The words struck an alarm in him, subtle but urgent. “Y’ain’t gonna hurt yourself, are ya?”
A huff of breath. “No," she chided. “Not unless I die of embarrassment first.” His brow furrowed. “Do you have a girlfriend?” They did this occasionally, asked each other a personal question from time to time. Usually only about music they liked or what they’d do to unwind shortly before heading to their respective beds: tea and a book for her, a movie and cold pizza for him.
He imagined her room had at least one rock poster on her wall, a coverlet left over from her days in college and perhaps a small CD player.
But he’d not had a girlfriend, much less brought a woman home, in the several months since his last roommate left him high and dry with the last woman he’d brought home.
“Nah, no girlfriend. Haven’t had anyone here since m’brother left.”
“It was for the best, I think. It’s what he kept telling me. Why do you ask?”
Silence and the susurrus of rapidly falling water. Another sigh.
He filled his hands with soap and began lathering his chest, working his way in soapy swirls over his shoulders and arms in a purely perfunctory manner. As his hands slipped down his hips and thighs, he heard another sound that had him slowing over his calves.
A quiet moan.
His throat went dry in the steamy air, gooseflesh pricking his arms and legs in spite of the heat. He took a moment and a breath. Waited.
“You know,” her voice sounded higher, as though she were fighting tears, “I don’t even know your name?”
His heart squeezed and so did his fists. He turned and faced the dark blue tiles, placed a hand upon it and leaned again into the cooling slick surface. “I’ve always called you ‘Siren’ or ‘Angel’ in my head.”
“I’m Beth,” she whispered in desperation.
“Daryl,” he said into the stillness of his following thought – what if she wasn’t crying?
“You sure you’re alright?”
“Yes,” she near-whispered, the echo so soft he nearly missed it beneath the dual pounding of the shower-heads. “Daryl,” she moaned softly.
His hands trembling, long forgotten soap rinsing in the spray and adhering itchy to his skin as the suds flattened, framing the wall now at shoulder-height for balance. He heard it now, the soft rhythmic cadence of the water’s pounding as it shifted its drumming against the tiles on the other side of the wall. As it shifted because of her movements.
What if she hadn’t meant him to hear? What did she want? Testing the waters – hah – he licked his lips and asked the question around the knot in his throat.
His breath a deeper one, he asked softly, voice quiet in the face of hesitation, “What’re you doin', Beth?” God such a sinful time to use her name, when images in shadowed suggestion of what she might look like rose in his mind like the heat inside himself.
“I think,” her voice curled into a higher octave, “you know.”
He clenched his eyes shut and shut off the water, unable to stand the extra heat and pin-pricking needles of water against his overheating skin. The echo-chamber of the shower beyond the wall was suddenly louder than he’d ever heard and he eagerly listened to the softer, wetter sounds beneath the rain falling upon her body beyond, with his body gathering heat like the rise of a thunderstorm.
“Daryl,” she inquired, her voice steadier than a moment ago and stronger in its seriousness, “Is this okay?”
His heart stuttered and pounded, unexpected tears springing to his eyes. “Yeah, Beth, it’s okay. Whatever you want, girl, its okay.”
Another moan echoed off the tiles and through the wall into his flesh. His breathing, he realized, was more labored than he’d known, or was more so, did it matter? Her voice, god her voice –
“Touch yourself for me.”
He took himself in hand like a lightning rod, feeling the electrical sizzle through his nerves, sighing at the contact and light pressure as he listened to her soft sighs and moans through the walls.
For a moment that’s all there was, her gentle, urgent voice through the walls, the pressure of her imagined hand on his cock and stroking him from root to tip, drawing the foreskin up and back down to reveal the engorged head of his cock to the cooling air. A low moan escaped his throat as his work-roughened fingers brushed the sensitive tip and he imagined perhaps the edge of her teeth, feeling, enjoying, the firm bulge of his flesh encircled by his fingers, the ripple beneath his touch of his veins and the pounding of blood echoing between his ears.
“Oh,” she whispered, “Daryl, are you?”
“Y-yeah,” he breathed, “yes, Beth,” another slow stroke sent tension slowly curling up from his cock to his stomach, “I am,” faster rhythm and a beautiful ache down his legs, “for you.” He thrust slowly into his fist, pressing his brow further into the tile and picking up speed.
“Talk to me, girl,” he pleaded gently, “lemme hear your voice.”
“Oh,” she moaned, rhythm in the water stopping with a thunk - the wall vibrated and he heard her voice vibrating directly into him – did she just fall into the wall? “It feels so good Daryl.’
Oh, God. “Tell me.” His hand gathered remaining soap-suds and slicked himself, stripping his cock in firm, steady motion as fiery pleasure crept up his spine.
“I’m – ooh – I’m sliding my finger over my clit –
The words and images made his cock twitch in his fist. Her voice cut off as she let out a long slow sigh which ended in a moan, spiking desire and pleasure through him. “Oh, girl,’ he whispered harshly to her, “you bein’ gentle with yourself? Goin’ slow?”
“Mmm…yeah. God, it feels so good…when it’s like this.”
“Like this?” He slowed his hand again, imagined them in synch, the head of his cock rubbing against her swollen little clit. His fingers stroked downward again before rippling upward to pull back his foreskin and circle the head of his cock, sending those sparks circling upward through him like embers rising above a flame in the dark.
“I just nodded,” she giggled, “but you can’t see.” Another soft, wet sound, like lips and tongue moving over suckled fingers.
Except he didn’t believe that at all because she was still talking. “I wish you could see me, what I’m doing.”
“Oh, girl I wanna see.”
“Tell me. Tell me what you’re doing.”
Okay. He’d never in his life been terribly vocal, a lifetime of hiding his explorations into the realms of pleasure never safe, hardly counting as secret when he grew up in an environment where being alert to sound and surroundings was essential for safety and survival. Where his older brother, if not his father, would undoubtedly be aware and be lucky enough if he saved his vitriol for the morning when shame was brighter in the harsh light of day.
Months of washing himself beside her through the safety of the wall, listening to her melodic voice raised in songs joyful and bittersweet and humming along to her tunes, beating his hands against the wall or safety-rail in time to give her a beat to help her along, his hands literally all over himself, soaping himself, stroking his skin, staying in the spray just to keep listening to her and never once did it occur to him that he could do this. That he might and she’d never know. Except now she did, she asked him and told him and now she wants him to say…
He’d never been a poet but he’d spill every goddamned word he had to give her what she wanted. The desire, the pleasure roughening his voice, his desperation to please her made him move faster over his skin, feeding into itself and the words fell forth haltingly.
“Girl,” gasp, “I-I wish I could see you. M’ touchin’ myself, feels good.” His hand swept up over the head and back down, “Oh, I wish this was your hand…’ His hand bucks up into his fist as it clenches convulsively beneath her imagined shoulder, a whine taking root and singing up his throat as he imagined her folds parting as he thrust, trapping her between himself and the wall.
Heat like fire licking up his skin took him as he thrust upward again, an urgent groan winding through him. “Imaginin’ y’here w’me,” he muttered as his thrusts grew faster. He heard her answering moan and the sweet squelch of her fingers, “Oh, girl, I can hear you, don’t stop.”
“I ain’t stopping,” she panted through the wall. Her soft little cries were driving him wild, leaning into the wall like he was trying to push through it, hips bucking into the hot tight center of his fist. The cool tile felt good against his heated skin, sweet friction igniting up his spine.
“Daryl?” he voice urgent.
“M’here girl,” his voice a harsh whisper breaking into a moan, “M’here with you!”
“Don’t stop, oh, God I need to hear you Daryl” her voice cracked on his name and he swore he heard her sob, a soft thump vibrating the thin layer of wall lower than his head. He dropped to his knees carelessly, clawing slightly at the wall where he’d felt the impact as if to get at her. The pain was dulled by the pleasure taking him over.
“Yeah,” she panted, a wild peal of laughter echoing through the walls and into his veins, “M’alright, don’t stop – oh – don’t stop Daryl!”
“I ain’t stopping, oh, God I wanna see you, I wanna hear you,” his fist pumped over his cock, the pressured pleasure curling at the base of his spine and slowly seeping down his legs, up his belly and chest with each sharp thrust into her, into his hand, into her voice as her breath started hitching around her moans.
He slowed for a moment, transfixed and staring with intensity as though through the tile, through the plaster and wood and screws holding it all together. Holding them apart. At the thought he thrust sharply, let loose a snarl and bit it into the back of his hand, his movements timed now in synch with the hitch in her breath, the desperate moans she was letting loose growing louder in time with the rising crest of his pleasure from the base of his spine all the way to his skull to fill his mind with golden haze and promise.
“Beth,” he gasped, “m’so close.”
“Oh,” she whined high in her throat, “Daryl, yes, I want – I want –
“Oh, God, Beth –
“Wait,” softer this time, stronger the next, “Wait. Hold on Daryl, don’t come yet, let me come with you, wait for me – wait,” his entire body clenched, punched out a sharp groan as he frantically tried to slow down, his voice a sharp whine of protest, “don’t you dare stop but don’t you dare come yet!”
He groaned, picking up the pace, tears pricking his eyes as lightning like heat surged through him, demanding release. Distantly he heard the rhythmic thwap-thwap-thwapping of his hand complicit in his own sweet torture. “I’unno if I can stop –
“Yes,” she moaned, “You can. Do it for me, wait for me.”
Her voice a rough command punctuated by her rhythmic cadence, “Grab your cock and squeeze hard. Base. Now.”
Movement over his burning cock and oncoming orgasm like the pressure of boiling water, of a freight train, unstoppable, unbelievably inevitable as he processed her words and hesitated, even that doing nothing to delay the oncoming rush of pleasure -
Angelic voice like a soft promise of redemption, “It’s okay Daryl.”
Without hesitation he gripped himself by the base of his cock and squeezed fit to strangle his demons.
That rise of pleasure just out of reach tore an agonized cry for mercy from his throat, tossed his head back and into the wall again but did nothing to quell the shivery rise of pleasure denied, of pressure, threatening to lose his sanity while he held his own pleasure at bay. Hadn’t the time for shock, for more than a shed tear slipping from his eyes as he felt the pressure ease and pleasure slip back down his spine like an uncoiling snake which left him trembling and aching fiercely.
“Holy shit,” he breathed.
“Oh God, Daryl,” Her voice was higher, thin and breathy; “you did it, for me?”
“God,” his voice was rough in his own ears; he sounded like a demon, “I wanna fuck you so bad angel.”
“Do it,” she commanded, voice rough again to match his, “Come for me – ah, I’m…so close – please Daryl! I need you!”
No sooner than, ‘come for me,’ was through her lips than he slammed himself into his fist, fucking himself hard and fast enough he distantly worried he’d hurt her if she were beneath him. He saw her, legs wrapped around him and nails clawing deep in the throes of her oncoming orgasm.
The image spurred him on.
“Let me hear you,” she whines between thrusts of her own wet fingers slamming unimaginably – so fucking imaginably – wet into her cunt, “need you,” she groaned.
“So close girl, righ' here with ya, God I’m coming – going to come – come for you, God I wanna come inside you, feel you come all over me, come all over inside you make youfeelsogoodangel come for me honey Ineedyouplease”
He heard her cry out sharply and it was like a merciful bullet that sent him straight to heaven. The oncoming force of it rising to engulf him with open arms. The train slammed the breath from his lungs, snake spread napalm through his veins, the echoing explosion pounded between his ears and he had no air between existence and the wall clawed beneath his hand. Her name. Angel. Beth.
When the stars receded from his blind skull and dimmed to a soft glow he realized he still held himself, so incredibly tender it was nearly painful, still leaking fluids, still trembling with aftershocks like joyful sparks above a merry fire. His gaze focused and slowly his eyes widened, taking in the slick translucent fluid spilled in torrents over the dark blue wall and down into the white tub, eyes wide. Astonishment that wasn’t astonishment making his heart ache. He looked up at his hand as it flexed to reach her, blinked at the gouges in the grout between the tiles and beneath his blunt nails.
“Jesus,” he said softly. “Beth? You okay angel?”
“Yeah,” the echo was clearer and he realized she’d shut the water off on her side, too. “Oh,” she moaned softly and her voice took on a dreamy far-away quality, “Daryl I’m feeling so damn good.” He couldn’t help the grin splitting his face. The lonely-sounding sigh he heard her release made a lump form in his throat.
He had to see her. “Can I come over?” he asked around the not-mass in his throat, heart skipping again. Silence as she paused and he swore she was smiling when she said, ‘yeah.’
“I’d like that a lot.” She gave him the apartment number.
He bit his lip, reluctant to leave the wall. Cutting the water on and off, he quickly rinsed himself and left his mess to dry on the wall, yanked on sweatpants and a shirt on his way – barefoot – out the door. Jesus, were they clean?
Yes. His keys jangled in his hands nervously as he punched in her number and felt the knot ease just a little when the buzzer went off. He opened the door and nearly flew up the three flights of stairs and barely kept himself from bouncing on his feet when he knocked on the door.
It opened slowly, as though she might be nervous, too. He tilted his head to see her, catching the edge of blonde nearly a head shorter than himself. The sharp edge of a dark blonde eyebrow arched over the prettiest blue eyes he’d ever seen, large in her face with a sweet curve of pink lips held anxiously between her teeth before she smiled. It lit her like a small sun from within and he felt warmer despite his wet hair and the drafty hallway.
“Hi,” he echoed. She reached out when he hesitated and, eyes locked to his, took his hand – the hand that he’d fucked himself senseless with to the sound of her pleasure, for her pleasure – and laced their fingers together.
It was like a revelation. His entire hand and hers weren’t hands at all but solid light sending static sparks up his arm and gooseflesh up hers. He stared down at her, those wide blue eyes his anchor as the world rocked beneath him and realigned.
“Oh,” she breathed.
He smiled. Breathed, “Yeah.”