“I don’t even know why I’m here,” Beth says when MK opens the door. Truth is: she doesn’t. She was going to check the feed from the camera in her apartment and then she thought, hey, maybe just one pill. And then she tumbled down the rabbit hole and woke up here: in front of MK’s shitty little trailer, watching her clone watch her with wide eyes.
MK sways out of the door of her trailer, looks left, looks right, hunches back inside. “Were you followed,” she says softly.
“I don’t know,” Beth says. Her voice cracks. MK looks at her and her mouth twitches, lips fold like paper. She seems to be weighing something.
“Come inside,” she says, and opens the door.
Beth steps through the door and immediately feels like crying. Maybe she should have taken fewer pills. Maybe she should have taken more. Maybe she should just give up and lie down on the ground somewhere and stop moving. Maybe – and she shakes herself loose of her thoughts, sits down on MK’s couch and rests her head in her hands.
“I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this,” Beth says, voice a series of quiet breaks. The air is silent. She can hear MK moving, doing something, maybe making more shitty iced tea; there’s something comforting in it, the thought that both of them hate the stuff but MK will keep making it anyways. Reliable, like a clock that doesn’t know how to wind down.
“You learn,” MK says, and she’s sitting down next to Beth on the couch and Beth wants to cry because MK understands, MK knows, MK jumps at every sound and has paranoia wound around her throat like a noose. She’s the only person in the whole world who understands what Beth is going through at this very moment. God, God, Beth doesn’t want to be alone.
She can hear the soft wet sound of MK’s mouth opening, like she’s going to say something that could actually help, and before Beth can think she’s lifted her head and kissed her straight on the mouth.
Bad move, Childs.
MK’s mouth is a little parted and it’s very soft and holy shit, what a mistake, but all Beth does is make mistakes. Beth pinned her monitor against the kitchen counter and said touch me, Beth let her partner pin her to the couch and said love me, Beth is sitting here with her mouth pressed to her clone’s mouth and holding her breath thinking see me know me please MK you have to understand.
She leans forward, desperate. She’s not sure what she’s desperate for; maybe she wants MK to shove her away, to say in her quiet voice no, Beth, you know you aren’t lovable. Maybe she wants MK to make a sound and lean into the kiss like she’s wanted this. Like she’s wanted Beth. Like Beth is someone who could be wanted, maybe, even if it’s in as fucked-up a way as this.
None of these things happen. They sit there with their lips pressed together for one awkward moment, two, and then MK gently leans back and breaks the kiss. She watches Beth with a look of polite confusion, like – like she doesn’t understand, that she should hate Beth for this.
“Please,” Beth says, and she wishes the word didn’t sound so desperate. She reaches out and grabs MK’s hand, splays it flat on her chest so MK can feel the horrible staggering of her heart. Says it again: “Please, just—”
MK’s brow furrows and she looks to the side, reaches up with her other hand to press the tips of her finger against her bottom lip. She doesn’t look like she even realizes she’s doing it, but she is. Beth wonders if MK can feel the way Beth’s heart is kicking faster under the heel of her hand, the way Beth looks at MK and sees all the soft sad parts of herself that she hates when they’re inside of her – and how MK is sitting there, confused and afraid and just a little bit shattered, and Beth did that. Beth ruined her. Beth left Art in a cold bed and Beth shot an innocent woman in a back alley and Beth kissed her clone on the mouth and—
MK leans forward, and kisses her. It’s barely a kiss, just MK determinedly pressing her lips forward against Beth’s as hard as she can, but it sends her thoughts into a panicked sprawl; she feels like her head is filled with birds all flying in different directions, and none of them say stop.
She lets go of MK’s hand, wraps her hand around MK’s bicep and deepens the kiss. With her other hand she curls her fingers around the back of MK’s neck, rubs a thumb in a circle over the spot back there that always makes her go all shivery. She kisses MK with a solidity, with a hunger, the way she’s always wanted someone to kiss her. She kisses MK in a way that says please stay with me, I see you and I know you and I don’t ever want you to go.
MK is making tiny little breathy sounds into Beth’s mouth and Beth realizes one or both of them are shaking. She wants to ask MK are you lonely too, are you lonely like I am but that means taking her mouth away from MK’s mouth and she never wants to do that. Never wants to say another word, only wants this ease of kissing someone and knowing exactly what they like. MK is a fast learner; she’s mimicking the way Beth moves her tongue, the scrape of teeth against lip, the warmth of hands on skin that’s forgotten how to be anything but cold. Beth is crying. She doesn’t know when she started. Maybe she never stopped.
The kiss shatters into something sloppy and desperate; one of them is breathing don’t go over and over and Beth doesn’t know if it’s her or her, which one of them is saying they all died all of them are dead and which one is saying I know they don’t love me I wish they’d stop pretending and who’s keening please, please, please.
That’s a lie. She knows it’s her. It’s always her, saying please, waiting and waiting for that bright light that will finally illuminate her.
They’ve slowed, when Beth was – gone; at some point MK’s hands settled into a cradle around Beth’s face and she practically crawled into Beth’s lap. They’re pressed together, skin to skin to skin. Beth feels with a raw sort of hollowness that her mistake is already coming, barreling towards them with no brakes. When this moment ends something will happen. She will say it was wrong. She will stand up and leave. She will put her hands where they don’t belong. She will pull out every pill she keeps in her pockets and down them all at once and kiss MK again, just to see which slow death tastes better.
“You don’t have to cry,” MK whispers against Beth’s lips, and her thumbs sweep salt water off Beth’s face but there is always more to replace it. I do, Beth thinks, I do have to cry. “I’m sorry,” she gasps instead. Like it’ll be enough somehow.
She is. Sorry. She’s sorry, and MK knows, and Beth keeps kissing her with a ragged desperation and waits helplessly for it all to come crashing down.