by Kate Bolin

Angel has a calender he orders from The Church. It's marked with holy days -- saints' days, Christ's days, days upon days of the exalted Lord's work, finely printed onto glossy paper.

Cordelia occasionally looks at it and shivers -- not in horror, but in the memory-sense of thick layers of wool draped on her body, the tight cinch of the headress, the weight of the robes --

The cool wetness of Angel's mouth against her clit.

Bless me, sister, for I have sinned. Forgive me, sister, for my trespasses. Let me, sister, let me show my remorse.

Hail Cordelia, full of grace...

On Ash Wednesday, he hands her a knotted cord. "For supplication," he says. "For whipping," her mind responds, and it takes a hundred strokes and switching arms three times before he cries out and begs to be forgiven.

Kneel before your God, my child. Kneel and ask your forgiveness.

She can't even pinpoint the day where it began. Kneeling before her sobbing, then licking, then giving her the clothes, the cross, the responsibility.

She's wet even before he's on his knees, hot and damp under the wool and his slow reverent lifting of the dress only heightens it. His slightly chilled lips are a shock, and his tongue slides against her tenderly.

Bless you, my child.

Her hand grabs his head and pulls him closer.

Your sins are forgiven.

She runs her fingers through his hair and grasps his shoulders.

Go with God.

She comes.


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