A/N: Another one of my old fics from the Skins fandom. Post-S4. Slightly AU because of the new series now. Unbeta'd.
“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose.”
- Kevin Arnold
“Where are we going anyway?” Katie asks; a distinct uncertainty in her voice that Effy can only respond to with a smile. She wants the trip to be a surprise, and she can tell that Katie is a little uneasy about the whole thing – the two of them going away together for the weekend.
Katie has been a like that about everything for a long time; probably as far back as the day she’d decided to take care of Effy after everything that happened with Cook and John Foster when they first moved in together.
She was all that Effy had left after that, and since Naomi and Emily were gone, it was the same for Katie too. It was only natural for the both of them to hold on to each other when everyone was gone, and it was nothing short of ironic and amusing, given that Effy couldn’t remember a lot of happy moments between her and Katie. Not from the first moment they met.
But things had changed since then. They’d changed, in ways neither of them ever thought they could.
It reminded Effy of her brother, in a way, and his friendship with Maxxie. During all those months when Tony was still trying to regain himself after his accident, learning to write, learning to read, to swim, and to do everything he couldn’t do after he was hit by the bus. She and Maxxie were the only two people who were there for him.
Sid was too busy either fucking Michelle or moping around over Cassie, and he was supposed to be Tony’s best friend. The same way Pandora was supposed to be Effy’s. Effy knew it was unfair to think that Panda had abandoned her, but she couldn’t help it. She needed someone to be there for her when she lost herself just like her brother, especially after she’d received notice about Freddie’s death and Cook’s incarceration.
Katie was the unexpected companion who held her hand, and took care of her all those months, and Effy had no way of showing her appreciation until recently, though she knew that the surprise would probably insult Katie at first, and probably shock her but she knew Katie wouldn’t take it to heart or at least she hoped she wouldn’t.
“Are you going to tell me where the fuck we’re going or not?” Katie asks again, raising her voice this time. “I should have known better than to let you behind the wheel again for fuck’s sake”.
“Don’t you recognize this road?” Effy says.
Katie stops talking for a moment, and looks at their surroundings.
“No…f…fuck!” she exclaims. “Turn around!”
“What? No!” Effy tells her. “We’re camping out aren’t we? That’s what you wanted isn’t it?”
Katie starts panicking and breathing hard, she wants to speak but the words keep getting caught in her throat.
“Are you…I can’t…what the…this is sick, you know?”
“Calm down Katie,” Effy says, removing a hand from the steering wheel, placing it on Katie’s trying to calm her down. “It’ll be nice, I promise. No rocks this time. Just the two of us, yeah?”
“I fucking hate you,” Katie says.
“No you don’t,” Effy jokes, putting her hand back on the wheel and driving on. “But you can be so cute when you pretend”.
“How fucking long are we gonna stay there?” Katie asks.
“Just for the night. I promise it’ll be good”.
“It better be. And you owe me after this babes!”
The road is clearer than it was back then, almost two years ago when the gang had got together to go out camping for the night. Effy remembers how awful she felt that day as she drove on, it wasn’t too long after she’d walked in on Katie and Freddie snogging in the shed. She felt like a terrible person because she was still fucking Cook even though it meant nothing to her, and by then had felt like nothing too.
She thought she loved Freddie back then, how wrong she was.
She’s surprised Katie hasn’t recognised the road earlier, but she can tell she’s upset. Of course she would be; this is Gobblers End; the same place where they’d got into that fight, and that dreadful incident with the rock happened.
Effy thought it would be a good idea to try camping a second time, but seeing the look on Katie’s face makes her think she’s made a terrible mistake.
Either way, there’s no going back. They’re already driving on and Effy doesn’t see the point of turning around, otherwise the trip would be a complete waste of time.
She’ll try to make Katie as comfortable as possible.
It won’t be long, she can tell. And they’re not stopping anywhere this time. That last encounter with those poachers was bad enough and Effy has brought enough supplies – food, drink, spliff, sleeping bags and a change of clothes – to keep them through the night.
Most importantly, she’s got her medication with her as well. It’s stuffed in the pocket of her woolen sweater, Freddie’s old sweater; the one she’d kept as a reminder of him, that along with his diary and the photograph of Freddie, Cook and JJ together at a carnival dressed in their musketeer’s costumes.
The three boys who loved her – that was how she always saw them. She still sees them that way now, even though Freddie is dead, Cook is in prison and JJ grew up and learned to forget her (lucky him). But she prefers to remember them that way for fear of growing resentful.
Just as Effy prefers to see Katie as the angel who took her up to that float when she’d had a panic attack at the Judgment Day parade, the one who stayed the night at the hospital after she’d almost killed herself, rather than the petty girl who used to follow her around at college and tried to be her friend when Effy didn’t want her around, the one who – out of jealous rage – almost strangled the life out of her that night at Gobblers End.
She’s decided that she’ll believe whatever she wants to believe to make her life better; if that’s what madness is then she doesn’t want to be sane.
The sky is grey and colorless, and it’s late in the afternoon by the time they make it there. Effy parks the car in the same place she did the last time they’d camped out. Katie still looks nervous and Effy looks at her and smiles.
“C’mon, it’s not that bad,” she whispers, taking her by the hand. “We can camp out here for the night, it’ll be fun”.
“Fun?” Katie says angrily. “It wasn’t fun last time, what with you bringing magic mushrooms to my fucking party then hitting me over the head with a pissing rock!”
“I thought we were past that Katie,” Effy says. “I mean…we’ve been living together how long now? Five months? Six? What difference does it make?”
“The difference, babes,” Katie says, eying her. “Is that I thought were going somewhere nice. I don’t like taking fucking trips down memory lane thank you very much, especially not the ones that remind me of how fucked up you can be when you try. I don’t know about you Effy, but I don’t like coming back to the place that reminds me of when I almost died. Maybe one of these days I’ll take you back to that place where Freddie’s granddad lives…you know, the one where you slashed your wrists in the toilet”.
Effy feels a growing pain in her chest at the mention of that incident. She knows Katie has just said it out of anger, but it hurts nonetheless.
“That isn’t fair, Katie” she whispers, trying to hold back the tears as she steps out of the car, breathing deeply.
She pulls a pack of fags out of her pocket and places one to her mouth when she realizes she doesn’t have a lighter. She turns to look at Katie through the window and Katie still doesn’t look happy.
Effy can already feel that it’s going to be a long afternoon, and an even longer night.
They set up their tent, their sleeping bags and everything else they need to keep them through the night, but Effy can still see that sour look on Katie’s face. She wants to walk over to her and hug her, tell her that she doesn’t have to be nervous but it doesn’t look like it’ll be that easy.
She remembers how Katie walked away from her when everyone started eating the shrooms. She didn’t understand it at the time but now she does.
Katie wasn’t upset because of some stupid psychedelic mushroom feast. She was upset because Effy had something she didn’t. And it wasn’t just Freddie, it was everything.
Effy too, knew why Katie felt that way. She’d come to see it now, after all those months they’d spent living together. In her way, Katie was – and is – still envious of her. Effy wishes she could tell her that being lusted by everyone and especially by a man who was willing to commit murder for it, is not a good thing.
But Katie is insecure, always has been. It’s just who she is. Effy doesn’t know how many early morning complements and kisses will do anything to change that. Perhaps Katie will always feel that bad about herself, but Effy knows as long as they’re together Katie at least has someone to cling to when it gets too dark.
Katie needs Effy just as much as Effy needs her.
Who would have thought the two of them would end up that way? It didn’t turn out to be as terrible as they thought it would be.
As all things in life it was unexpected. Naomi and Emily understood it, they approved. They didn’t know the two of them had grown to become more than friends though.
“Here, let me help you with that,” Effy says noticing how Katie is struggling with getting the tent to stay still.
“Go away,” Katie barks at her.
“Don’t be petty,” Effy says, and Katie throws her hands up in the air and turns her back to Effy who just stands there trying to think of something – anything – to say to make things less awkward.
She decides that words will only make it worse and doesn’t speak but walks over and touches Katie, placing her hand on her shoulder and moving in closer until she’s resting her head on Katie’s, the smell of her shampoo filling Effy’s nostrils as she tugs her closer, moving her lips down to kiss her neck.
“Don’t fucking think you’re flirting your way out of this,” Katie warns, turning around pointing a finger at her, but Effy can tell she’s already trying to stifle a laugh – they both are.
“C’mon,” she tells her. “We can get pissed and run around naked like foxes!”
“Eff…we don’t have that much booze. And how do you come up with this crap? Seriously.
“We’ve still got some of that spliff left over from a few days back don’t we?” Effy asks, hoping and praying in her head that Katie won’t say no.
“There’s hardly any left,” Katie whines. “I don’t know how I let you get me into this. I swear, one of these days I’ll be staying in all day and not going to work because you’ve kept me up all night”.
“I thought I already do that,” Effy jokes, poking Katie in the side playfully. “Keeping you up all night that is”.
“Yeah…sometimes,” Katie says, hanging her head down. “I don’t know how we’re going to tell Naomi and Emily about…you know…when they get back”.
“Oh, there’s nothing to tell is there?”
“Don’t play fucking stupid Eff,” Katie says, shoving her lightly as Effy keeps poking Katie with the tips of her fingers. “We've been living together for almost a year now. Your fucking clothes and your toothbrush are at my place. We share a bed, and late at night we get drunk and fu…”
“Just tell them the truth,” Effy tells her. “Emily will understand”.
“Will she?” Katie asks, that vulnerability in her tone of voice that makes Effy want to pull her into a hug and squeeze her tightly, assure her by telling her everything will be alright.
“Emsy will hate me forever, you know?”
“Maybe,” Effy says, shrugging her shoulders. “But it’s better to tell them the truth than to go on pretending we’re just roommates. Can you believe how awkward it’ll be when the two of them try to fucking set us up with other people?”
“Oh, fuck!” Katie says, pressing her hand to her face. “Alright. You’ve convinced me”.
“As always, Katiekins!”
Effy takes her by the hand and they go on a jog through the woods, or rather Effy is pulling her by the hand as Katie reluctancly follows.
“Hey, what are you doing, babes? We can’t leave our stuff back there?”
“What are you scared of Katie?” Effy calls turning to look behind her as the two of them run forward, picking up the pace. “The big bad poachers won’t come to steal our food and clothes”.
“No, it’s…fuck! We don’t even have warm clothes for fuck’s sake.”
“What? That jumper you’re wearing isn’t enough? Not quite like leopard print is it Katie?”
“Fuck off,” Katie says, laughing out loud. “You still owe me one, you know”.
They keep on running on for a while until Effy comes to a stop. She’s out of breath and the two of them are tired and don’t want to go too far.
A stormy cloud fills the sky, and Effy feels the trickle of raindrops falling down on her face and hands. She didn’t expect rain, but she’s not complaining. She’s walked the streets on a rainy night many a time before, there was once a time when Katie had to drag her back into the home because she couldn’t stop standing out there, her arms stretched out, letting the rain fall down on her.
It’s the same for her then as she looks up into the sky, the trees so much taller than her, the rainwater coming down to cleanse her of bad memories and terrible mistakes. She loves the feeling, in some ways it’s better than getting high.
The rain pours down harder and Katie covers her head.
“Oh, shit. My hair!” she shouts. “Effy, c’mon. We’ve got to get back to the tents”.
It’s Katie grabbing Effy by the hand the second time, and Effy giggles playfully as the they run back to where they came from, trying hard not to trip and fall over some fallen logs or little stones.
By the time they make it back their clothes are soaked and neither of them can be bothered putting up a second tent, not that sharing one would be a problem. It’s pretty silly, given that they already share a bed.
They can still hear the rain pouring down hard when they slip under the tent, protected by the thick sheet of multi-colored fabric. Katie curses under her breath when she realizes she’s left some of the supplies outside and rushes out to get them before slipping back under, groaning while wiping her face with her hands.
Effy lies down, closing her eyes and catching her breath, she bursts into laughter for a moment before resting her head back, adjusting her hair; tying it back and upward, before looking at Katie who’s still trying to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything.
“We should do this more often.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Katie exclaims. “Next time…we’re sticking to staying indoors and getting trashed, okay?”