The monsters puzzled Allison. They were so cruel to each other, they were antagonistic, callous, and alien to not just to other people, but also to each other.
Allison wasn’t blind, she could see how much Nicky wanted friends, how Aaron tried (and failed) to hide that cheerleader from his monster brother. Even the way that the monster and Kevin seemed to barely tolerate each confused her.
They despised each other, but they never strayed far from the monster’s shadow. Their little twisted family that none of them seemed to want to pull away from.
(This confused Allison the most. She had been disowned and forgotten by her own family. In her experience, family didn’t usually mean loyalty like it seemed to for these broken boys.)
The Monster himself was the most alien to her though. Allison had wanted to play this sport so much she had walked away from everything she knew in order to play it, and this monster didn’t want anything, even the sport he was so achingly talented at.
They were on the bus, driving back to Palmetto after recovering Neil, broken and battered but still alive from the feds. To be completely honest, Allison was still reeling from all of the truths that had finally spilled out during the frantic time Neil was missing and then when they got on the bus and Neil could tell the story himself. It wasn’t shocking that Neil had been hiding from someone dangerous, anyone with eyes could see that, but the knowledge of who and why Neil had been hiding from was shocking.
Almost as shocking as actually having proof that Neil and the monster were actually dating or fucking or whatever they were doing. She looked back at them, they were silent, but doing that thing where they stared at each other as if they could read each other's thoughts. She didn’t get it.
“I don’t get it,” She told Renee.
Her girlfriend shrugged and then winced when the movement pulled at one of the injuries she had picked up during the riot.
Renee followed her line of sight to the monster and Neil currently murmuring to each other quietly, “They understand each other. They make each other more real.”
“But they’re so different !” Allison hissed.
Renee was still staring at them, now Neil was attempting to avoid aggravating any of his many wounds while trying to get some sleep. Andrew had yet to take his eyes off of him.
Allison loved her girlfriend. Renee was so perceptive and kind. But sometimes she could be so damn cryptic.
The next time she attempted to understand the monster was after Renee had come back from one of their “sparring sessions” covered in bruises and moving her left arm tenderly.
“Why do you let him do this to you?” She asked, frustrated.
Renee smiled, showing her teeth, “We both need an outlet and I can’t get rusty, can I?” She looked at Allison consideringly and asked gently, “Maybe you should come and watch sometime.”
Allison found herself agreeing and the next week, she was at the gym in front of the sparring mats watching her girlfriend and a monster beat each other to a pulp.
The monster was relentless and impassive as he attempted to land blow after blow, but it was clear that he was outclassed as Renee danced and weaved around him.
(It was kind of hot)
They fought dirty, going for old wounds and places that were hard to defend against. Sometimes, Allison forgot that Renee had once gone by a different moniker, but watching her and the monster fight, Allison could understand how Natalie Shields had once been a terrifying figure in the underworld.
But even with Allison’s admittedly limited knowledge, it was clear that Renee was holding back. Finally, Renee managed to pin the monster. Victorious, she offered him a hand and pulled him up from the mat. Renee and the monster spoke for a few minutes before she turned and started walking towards Allison.
(scratch that, it was really hot )
“That was so hot,” Allison said as soon as Renee was next to her. Renee giggled and leaned up to give Allison a peck on the lips.
“I’m glad I could entertain you.”
(Allison was so in love with this beautiful girl)
After Renee had showered and they were walking back to the dorms, Allison turned and asked, “You’re so much better than him, why fight you?”
“Sometimes words aren’t enough and he needs a physical outlet, I think it keeps him from feeling helpless”
Allison wanted to laugh. (The monster, helpless? She couldn’t even imagine it.)
“I don’t think that he’s been helpless a day in his life.”
Renee studied her quietly. “You’d be surprised.”
Finally, Allison went straight to the source and got Neil alone.
“I don’t get it.”
Neil looked up from the exy game he was watching.
“You and the monster,” She grumbled, “He says he hates you and he’s so emotionless and he doesn’t even want anything, how do you guys even work?”
Neil looked surprised. “He knows what it's like to be nothing, to have nothing. I guess we have an understanding. It’s always been Andrew, Allison.”
Allison made a noise of frustration. She just didn’t get it.
The monster found her a day after her conversation with Neil.
“I heard you and Neil had a talk yesterday.” He said in an emotionless voice.
She whirled around to face him.
“I don’t trust your intentions with him,” She said, fearlessly despite her heart pounding in her chest at the monster sneaking up on her like that.
He tilted his head to them side, considering her.
“I don’t care if you guys are just fucking or whatever,” She continued, “But if you hurt him, I don’t care who you are, you will regret it.”
She braced herself for his reaction, but he started making a noise that on anyone else would be a laugh, the monster sounded out of practice. It sounded… nice, it was a much better sound than the manic way he would laugh when he was still on his medication.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about on that front, Barbie,” He said walking away from her, still chuckling.
She still didn’t get it.
That night, she somehow managed to catch sight of two figures on the roof of the dorm, trading a cigarette between them. They were turned into each other as if they were the only to creatures that mattered in the entire world. It seemed peaceful.
Allison thought of how no one understood how she and Seth worked. She thought of how when they were alone, despite all of the bad things he did and how much of an asshole he could be, when they were together, they both found some measure of peace. She thought maybe she did get it after all, in a strange, not quite complete way. Or maybe she realized she didn’t have to get it.
She went back to the room she shared with Renee, grinning, and announced, “I finally get it.”
And then she kissed her girlfriend for a while before finally falling asleep, still grinning triumphantly.