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the chaos

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The very moment he checks in he’s already sick of her (he’s been telling himself he’s been sick of her since day one). Sick of her questions, sick of her exhausting energy.  He knows he should take it easy; he’ll have a stroke before the end of the month if he doesn’t.

But he’s dealing with insurance, and he has to meet up with home developers to build a fucking new house. It’s a long to do list, and somewhere between all of that is find Zane and kick his ass, and beg Norma to leave him alone. 

When the developer doesn’t answer his phone, he decides that he should go ahead and just bump up kick Zane’s ass on his to do list. And besides, the last thing he wants to think about is the dimensions of his living room, and whether he wants a stucco, or brick exterior.  

He’s decided he’ll just have a stroke. It’s fine. Whatever. 

#

When he comes back to the motel after checking off kick Zane’s ass on his to do list, Norma sees him. He rolls his eyes as he walks up the steps to her house. She harasses him into coming up so she could clean up his face, and he’s not sure how or why, but all of the sudden they’re making small talk at her kitchen table. And when he hears she’s been talking to Nick Ford he sits up straighter. He doesn’t like how worried that made him. But he wants her to be safe. He doesn’t dwell on it though, because above all, he wants to be left alone. 

And he knows that her cleaning up his face is just a means to an end. Maybe she’ll leave him alone, and he’ll be able to check that off his to do list too (but he knows she won’t). 

#

He wakes up to knocking on his door on his day off. Then he hears Emma’s voice. She announces its housekeeping and something about towels and sheets. He gets up, and by the time he answers the door he feels like he got hit by a bus. 

“Are you alright?” She asks, handing off towels. 

“Yeah, just a cold. Thanks Emma.” He winces at the sound of her loud voice, and the bright sunlight pouring into his room.

“Do you need any-“

“I really don’t,” he cuts her off. “I’m sorry, no I’m fine.” 

“Feel better,” she mumbles as she leaves. 

He sets the towels and sheets down on the dresser, takes some Nyquil, and passes out, for what he hopes will be the rest of the day.

#

Unfortunately, later in the day there’s a harsher knock on the door. It’s Norma and he knows it. He also knows why she’s here, and suddenly he regrets telling Emma he was sick. 

“Yes, Norma.”

“I know you won’t let me take care of you.”

“That’d be correct.”

“How’d you even get a cold in the summer? Probably all that worrying, you honestly need to-”

“Norma, wha- why are you here? He shifts his weight to the middle of the door frame, blocking her from his room.

“Where’s your phone?” she asks stepping past him barging into his room anyway. 

“What are you doi-“ he chokes out a cough, “can you please just leave.”

“You sound awful, you can really hear it in your lungs.” She pulls his phone off the charger on the nightstand. “It’s locked.”

“Yeah, it is,” he snatches his phone back from her, “What do you want?”

“I was going to give you my number so you can text me if you need anything.”

“Do you do this to all your guest? Do their laundry and give out your number?”

 She rolls her eyes, “5 4 1 5 5 5 0 1 3 3”

“Couldn’t you have, just like, written it down and slid it under the door?”

“Bye,” she smirks and leaves. 

He takes more Nyquil and finally changes his sheets and passes out. This time for the rest of the day. 

#

Things are fine for the most part. Norma gives him shit for working too hard and not giving himself enough time to get better. Things were fine until she asks about how his house was coming.

“Dylan didn’t tell you?” he asks while fixing his coffee.

“Oh um, I haven’t talked to Dylan. He- he moved out.”

He briefly freezes while pouring cream into his coffee; unsure what he stumbled into. 

“Oh. Well someone he works with did it.”

“Someone Dylan works with torched your house?”

“Yes,” he finally turns around. “Dylan’s bo-“

“Dylan didn’t do it,” she interrupts him before he could finish.

“Norma, I know.” It comes out harsher than he wanted it to. “Dylan’s boss did it.”

“Did you arrest him?”

“It doesn’t work like that.”

He expects her to ask why. But she doesn’t, she just nods her head.

“Bye Norma,” he mumbles into his coffee and heads out the door. 

#

Later that night when he’s coming home he looks up at the house. He sees a light turn on as he’s unlocking the door to his room. He sees a shadow walk past the window, and he freezes when he realizes that the shadow is undressing, and who the shadow is. He continues to watch until he realizes what he’s doing, what she’s doing, and his eyes go wide.

He respects her privacy by walking into his room quickly.

But he doesn’t exactly honor it when it’s half past one and he’s wide awake and that image, of her, undressing is still on his mind. 

A few days later he’s at work, on the phone with his insurance company when his phone buzzes next to his ear. He glances at it and sees it’s from Rebecca. He puts his phone back to his ear until it buzzes again. 

Hey. I know you’re really busy with your house and all. I just haven’t heard from you and I hope you’re alright.

Just text me if you want to meet up. 

He shakes his head and when he finally hangs up, and considers turning his phone off for the day. He’s not sure why he wants to be left alone, he just isn’t in the mood for people.

As he’s powering off his phone it buzzes again. 

And you know, you could just stay at my place instead of having to rent a room at a shitty motel.

He types out a quick message.

Sorry I’ve been busy lately. And thanks, but no thanks, I’m allergic to cats, remember? 

He powers his phone off, throws it in his drawer, and enjoys the silence. So much so, he almost forgets it in his desk. 

#

They end up meeting up at her place anyway. Bringing a woman to a motel room isn’t really something he wants to, or should be doing.

He’s there all of two minutes before Rebecca grabs his jacket collar and kisses him.

They don’t even make it to her room. They walk in that general direction, but she pushes him into the wall with her arms around his neck. He didn’t realize how much he wanted this, because within the next few seconds he flips them both around where she’s pinned up against the window. He can’t help but smile when he hears the sound of their bodies hitting the window; it’s so juvenile. He pulls his lips apart from hers, and feels her struggling to unbuckling his pants. He makes a motion with his head to the bedroom.

Partially because he doesn’t want to have sex standing up, it’s difficult, tiring, and near impossible. He’s also slightly confused. Something is off, usually they fool around for half an hour or so. Part of him doesn’t even care, not about her, just about this situation. He’s tired, he just wants to lay down. But she declines the invitation to her bed, and just turns her back to him. He’s not sure what she’s doing, but he’s in sync with her every movement. And all the sudden she’s pressed up against the glass and he’s taking her right there.   

He places his hand over hers on the window. He feels the cold glass of the window on under his fingertips; it worries him. And it’s not that it really matters, the window looks out to her very private back yard. What worries him is that when he’s kissing her neck when he thinks of Norma, innocently undressing. He thinks of watching her. He thinks of wanting her. He thinks about what it would be like to have her here in this position. He thinks of her touchi-

Rebecca mumbles something that turns into a moan, but he’s too disgusted with himself to hear it. 

He tries to think about Rebecca. He really does. But he. Just. Can’t. 

The window. He’s watching her window. She’s innocently undressing in the window. He’s fucking Rebecca against a window. That’s what he’s doing right now. He’s trying to stay present, but she’s flickering in his mind.

They finish on the couch and he leaves within the hour. 

He’s driving back to the motel, and his eyes are watery and itchy, despite her best effort of putting the cats in the bathroom for the evening. He considers bringing her to the motel next time, but the thought makes him feel nauseous. 

It’s because he’s a public official, that’s what he tells himself. He just can’t be caught bringing a woman into his motel room.  

Because fucking a woman against a window is much better. 

He has to stop on the side of the road to throw up.

 #

When he sees Norma, he doesn’t make it awkward. He just stays short and to the point when he’s talking; and he almost doesn’t want to tell her. Not for any other reason other than, just because, well, how does that conversation even start? 

When she approaches her about getting Lee Burman’s spot on the council, he lets her walk away until he feels that twinge of guilt, and it’s just too much to ignore. 

“Well sometimes at night, when you leave your light on in the bedroom, you can see right through those curtains.”

“You can?” 

She looks genuinely shocked, so at least it wasn’t some desperate ploy for attention or- he doesn’t know. 

“Yeah.”

And with that he retreats to his car and avoids her for the next few days.

#

It’s weird to separate himself from his job. He doesn’t really like it. Which is probably why he’s stayed single for so long. Well, he has Rebecca, but that’s beside the point. 

To him, Sheriff Romero and Alex Romero are the same person. But even he feels odd discussing Norman, and Jimmy Brennen’s death with her after weeks of “Morning, how are you, fine thanks, yeah, it did rain a lot, yeah, maybe we’ll get some sun this weekend, no I don’t need anything, thanks, yeah have a good day too.”

God, he acts like he’s never made small talk before. 

But he forgets how shrill she can be until she’s at the station, demanding to see her son, talking about lawyering up, and telling him her son is innocent. 

Although she’s neither the one guilty nor innocent here, she believes Norman was defending himself and Cody, and so does he.

He gives her the benefit of the doubt because she knows people are often anxious or frustrated when they’re innocent and involved in something like this; it's how he knew she killed Keith Summers. She was far too calm and collected compared to what she’s like now. He glances over and sees her pacing and fiddling with the tie on her pink blouse. 

If he had children, he’d understand, or at least he thinks he would. The uncertainty of having your child being held for questioning probably doesn’t feel great. He fights the urge to tell her it’ll be okay, because it’s Norma Bates, and for her things are very much not okay. He’s already told her this is procedure, and this is how it has to happen, but there’s a part of her that’s unnecessarily anxious. But because he doesn’t have a death wish, he keeps that to himself. 

#

Once everything Jimmy Brennen’s death is officially ruled an accident, he tells Norma. He knew it would, everyone’s stories lined up. When he stops by she’s understandably relieved. He’s happy that she can take this weight off her shoulders. He’s apologizing and thanking her for being patient and he realizes that in this moment he’s not the Sheriff. He’s Alex. He’s talking to her as Alex. 

He sits in his car for a moment before driving off. He’s finally seeing the distinction between the two. 

#

There’s a calmness that comes and goes at the Bates Motel, and for now it’s calm. He’s not sure for how long, but it’s calm now. It’s like he can sense the chaos that comes and goes, which he probably can. He’s good at his job for a reason. 

He’s drinking alone the evening he gets a phone call that he knows will disturb the calm. 

Of fucking course, the semen sample had to match to Norman. 

Things are not chaotic yet, and honestly, he’s not sure it’ll be a big deal. Norman having sex before Blair Watson was murdered means nothing, except that Blair Watson had sex with minor. 

He's getting his morning coffee in the motel office. He feels Norman’s eyes on him, and he feels the chaos coming.

#

He wouldn’t even bring it up if he hadn’t heard about Norman going to Blair Watson’s grave as frequently as he did. He understands the kid was grieving. But high school kids that have sex with their teachers right before they were murdered don’t grieve for four months. Or at least he assumes so, he's never been in that boat.

The situation is just too odd to ignore. He decides not to do anything until he asks Norman about it. He’ll judge his reaction and make a decision from there.

He’s not sure what his reaction should be. Norman didn’t seem like the kind of high school boy that’d be proud of having sex with a teacher. He figures he’d be embarrassed and ashamed. He understands keeping it quiet, especially because the woman was literally murdered the same night. 

He’ll approach it delicately. Best case scenario? Norman tells the truth and maybe has a breakdown in his motel room. Worst case scenario? 

He can’t even finish the thought. Because it’s so ridiculous, right?

He takes a deep breath, knocks down his shower curtain, and heads up to the house to ask for Norman's help.

#

He demands a polygraph. Kyle Miller may not have killed Blair Watson, but he has to know Norman didn’t. 

He wanted to keep Norma out of it. Assuming she didn’t already know, and he was willing to bet she didn’t. But when she starts acting odd when he asks about Norman he needs to tell about the sample. He’s not a mother, but he figures that what he has to tell her is something no mother wants to hear. 

She convinces him to wait another day. Which is less than ideal, because he needs answers. 

But when the next day comes he finds out Nick Ford has Norman. He briefly wonders if Norma is lying, until he sees the sheer panic on her face.

Later when he and Dylan bring Norman to the hospital, he sees Norma getting out of her car as he’s leaving. He tells her that Norman is fine, but this is far from over. 

He passes. He fucking passes the polygraph. He’s not sure why he’s surprised. He wouldn’t let himself think that Norman killed Blair Watson, but he is shocked. It dosen’t make sense.

After the shock wears off he feels guilty. He feels guilty that he put Norma, Norman, and to a lesser extent Dylan, through all this. He’d feel worse if he failed the polygraph, for obvious reasons. But at least he can continue to put this on Kyle Miller. Norman is a kid, and he’s not above running his life if he deserved it, but at least he can chalk the whole thing up to a messy situation of inappropriate teacher-student conduct.

He’s not sure if he should apologize or use the “it’s just procedure” cop-out that he's used so many times before. So, he just thanks Norma for being cooperative and leaves the building before he has a chance to see Norman. 

When he’s driving home, he sees a light green Mercedes following him back to the motel, so he makes a random left turn into the village to do literally anything else but not run into them. 

He considers checking into Kings for the rest of the time he’s without a home. But to check out now and leave? It feels weird, he can’t name the feeling, but it just doesn’t feel right.

(The word he's looking for is embarrassed)

#

Just like that he’s back to avoiding her, and Norman, and Dylan. So, when Rebecca calls him, he jumps at the chance to go over and remembers takes a Benadryl before. 

This time they end up in her bedroom. The sex is fine, good even. Before passing out in her bed, he has a brief thought that he shouldn’t be doing this. He knows Norma will notice his car isn’t there, not that he cares or anything (and he doesn’t care), and Norma shouldn’t either. 

He wakes up a few minutes after six in the morning and is thankful that he wears the same uniform five days a week. He gets dressed quietly slips out of her house and heads to work.

#

“Where were you last night?” 

“The station.”

“Alex, you know I have two kids right, I know you’re lying.”

“Does it matter?”

She shrugs and goes back to closing up the office. He fiddles with his keys to find the one to his room. 

“I’m making dinner for Dylan. Do you want to come up?” She asks while locking the office door. 

“Norma,” he sighs. “Shouldn’t you-“ he pauses; debating if he wants to even finish his sentence. “Shouldn’t you be angry with me? After all, I did accuse your son of capital mur-”

“He’s innocent Alex,” Her voice is low, like she’s still trying to convince herself. 

“I know.”

“Come up for dinner, everything is fine. We’re fine.”

There is absolutely no reason to say yes, but he does. 

“Let me change,” he says as motions to his room. 

 #

When he gets up to the house, Norma opens the door and tells him to wait in the living room. Dylan comes out of the kitchen with two beers they sit and make awkward small talk.

He looks around, “Norman here?" 

“Oh no, he’s out with Emma. Movies I think.”

He nods his head, “I just wanted to apologize to him. It’s been an odd summer, for him anyway.”

“Yeah,” Dylan chuckles. “I think he understands you were just doing your job.”

Alex nods silently. 

“You know, we’re really grateful for all you’ve done for us.” Dylan says, looking straight forward and twirling the bottle between his fingers. “And Norma is glad you’re staying here. She says it’s free security with the sheriff’s SUV parked out front.”

He looks down at his beer, “Of course, this isn’t an easy town to live in.”

He’s not even sure what that means, or why he even says it. 

“You would know,” Alex adds with a chuckle.

“You know,” Dylan begins, “I guess it doesn’t matter that were having a beer together. Or it doesn’t matter anymore. 

Alex shakes his head and feigns a smile, “No I guess it doesn’t.”

“You kicked the shit out of my boss,” Dylan chuckles. “Then you killed him.”

“Yeah, I guess I did,” he mumbles into his beer glass.

Norma calls them in the kitchen before she steps outside to get herbs from the garden, and he sees fresh flowers in front of the open window and sees Dylan making three place settings; and he wonders if her life has always been like this. So inviting, and caring, and so warm; and he’s slightly jealous of both Norman and Dylan. 

They all sit down for dinner and it’s scares him how good it feels. 

He wanted to just eat and go back to his room, but he finds himself still there finishing a glass of wine (when did he let her pour him some?), and making actual conversation with the women who he sees every morning, and the guy who played a leading role in the drug trade. It sounds the beginning of a bad joke. 

They clear the table and he motions to the door with his head and mumbles a quick “thank you” and something about turning in for the night.

“Oh, I’ll walk you out.”

“It’s fine, I can show myself out.”

She rolls her eye, walks him to the patio, and wraps her arms around him. And for the first time since being in his twenties that he wishes he had more to drink, that way he could blame alcohol for giving her a small kiss on the on her head. However, she is the one who gives him a quick peck on the check a little too close to the corner of his mouth. He lowers his hands and slides them down her arms just to let go. And he catches himself looking at her with this intensity that he didn’t know he had inside of him.

“Goodnight, Norma.”

“Goodnight, Alex.”

 #

He’s back to avoiding her. Maybe he shouldn’t use the word avoiding. Being busy and staying out of her way is a better way to put it. His house almost ready and he’s very ready to have a home again. 

It’s not until he’s getting boxes to put all his crap in, he realizes that he’s actually not that happy about leaving. 

When he says bye and forcefully gives her a check he doesn’t know what to do. He makes that very clear by going in for a hug when she was going to give him a handshake, and standing with his face too close to hers right before she gives him a kiss on the cheek. 

Cool, he’s a high school girl now.