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in the lining of your skin

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Behind the new face, there is nothing. It takes one glance, one look at the gem-studded dress, the two-toned curls, and Dana knows. It's an act. An act more carefully crafted than the shoulder pads, sunglasses, and silver bands they'd picked out together, arm in arm, giggling as they strolled down the boulevard.

Now, Emma takes her strides with manufactured purpose. The dress looks gorgeous but uncomfortable: the slit along the side reveals a caramel-dyed leg and makes it difficult for her to walk with grace. She takes tiny steps, weighed down by the intricacies of her disguise.

But it has to be complicated. How else will she hide what she doesn't have?

Whatever is wearing that costume, that gaudy, over-the-top Hollywood glamour, it isn't Emma. It's someone pretending to be her, or what's left of her, and trying to squeeze something new out of a beloved, perfect, old.

Dana holds her head high as Emma passes by, looking through her, like she's made of nothingness, like she's as intangible as the past between them. She saunters onto the stage, throwing back her shoulders and smiling devilishly at the adoring audience.

But they can't sense it, the absence. They don't know that she isn't there.

Dana waits backstage. The space around her bristles with the stagehands' anticipation. But she's hollow, dulled by the sudden dawning of change. The day she'd once longed for is finally here: Emma's back. Emma's going to be around now, in the locker rooms, in the gyms, in the middle of the ring.

Seventeen weeks in the making: the destruction of Emma.

Dana can't look away.

Dull eyes flash for a second, bright as a burning star, and Emma seems to awake. She drawls out her new name for the first and last time -- Emmalina -- and makes the announcement, tossing the microphone onto the ground and storming backstage. Dana's heartbeat is loud in her ears.

Emma stomps towards her, eyes ablaze with something that Dana recognises. She stops. She looks through her body and into her heart. Emma shakes her head, turning away. Dana's protests die on her tongue: there's nothing she can say or do to bring back what they've lost.

As she walks away, Emma's heels sound like the snipping of scissors.

Dana crosses her arms. She makes her way back to the locker room: there's still a lot to get ready. Her mentor has a fight tonight and as always, she's the insurance. She's the afterthought, the just in case, the super girl who saves the match at the last possible second. Charlotte needs her in a way Emma never did. Maybe that makes all the difference.