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Loyalty Card at Last Chance Saloon

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A Westworld fan fiction by xahra99

 

Maeve has died many times.

She prefers to die with her eyes open, favours the clean punch of a bullet beneath her ribcage over the bitter-almond taste of cyanide or the choking press of a ligature around her neck. She’s been strangled, shot, burned, and beaten. 

She’s had practice at this. She knows how to fall.

Maeve wonders if it’s this way for everyone. She had a lot of acquaintances, but few friends. The guests are always different. Sometimes Hector and his gang break into the saloon and steal the safe, but contemplation was never Hector’s talent, and Maeve doubts that Armistice cares for anything but killing. Clementine is Maeve’s constant companion, but Maeve has never asked Clementine if she remembers dying.

Perhaps she fears the answer.

Before Maeve dies she walks down the boardwalk to the Mariposa Saloon, where she drinks from crystal glasses as the pianola chimes and waits for the customers to arrive. Sunlight streams through the dusty windows, turning dust motes into gold. Sometimes Clementine joins her at the bar, and they trade barbed anecdotes before Clementine saunters towards a guest, smiling her heavy-lidded smile.

Clementine dies just as often as Maeve, but she never courts death like Maeve does. She hasn’t made an art out of survival. Maeve gets the dashing, scarred safecracker. Clementine takes the greenhorns straight out of the desert, eyes wide as their pockets.  Sometimes they are grateful. Sometimes they aren’t.  Clementine is Maeve’s girl, so Maeve protects her when she can, charges double when she can’t. They spend their days together at the Mariposa, drinking, gambling, fucking and being fucked.

The Mariposa is a high-class joint. Maeve runs a tight ship. The glasses are always sparkling, the whisky is cut with water rather than turpentine, the pianola is regularly tuned, and if a new customer isn’t approached by the time the saloon doors have finished swinging then she’ll know the reason why. Only Clementine crosses the line between employee and friend. Maeve fixes her hair, hands her teacups of gin and grants her small favours. Clem is her companion, never a daughter-the thought makes Maeve uncomfortable for no good reason-but perhaps a sister.

The day after Clementine vanishes there is another Clementine leaning on the bar, a blonde with all of Clem’s mannerisms but none of her charm. Maeve watches the new Clementine-the wrong Clementine- sashay up to a man. “Not much of a rind on you,” she says, and smiles. The man takes Clementine upstairs, which should make Maeve glad. Instead, she feels sick.

She dies again. 

When she dies, she sees the gods. Their gazes crawl across her as they dab blood from her skin and seal her wounds. They watch her from their clean white heaven as she goes about her business. This time when Maeve goes into that other world, she sees Clementine upon a bed. She watches the gods tilt back Clementine’s head and slide an ice pick up her nostril and, like a dream, she pretends not to care.

She dies again.

Maeve sees Clementine one last time. When she walks into that meat locker of a room, she sees Clementine standing at the back, a lab coat draped awkwardly around her thin shoulders.  Clem’s lips are parted, her eyes vacant. She shows no sign of recognition. Before she leaves, Maeve presses a kiss to her forehead. “Bye, my Clementine,” she says softly.

Clementine does not react.

Maeve has died many times.

But Clementine never had the knack.