The arguments were growing worse, the tension of the road, the sleepless nights and rough long days of driving and stopping at shady hotels and living off pre- packaged food from liquor stores and gas stations. It was tense, though it seemed they had found a rhythm anything could disrupt the dangerous harmony they’d created. Anything could set them off, create a cyclone out of barely kept control. Today was one of those days.
When Alex catches Karolina holding Nico to her lap, a pale arm wrapped about her waist as the witch puzzled over maps and drank faintly from a canteen they’d swiped from a mom ‘n' pop shop somewhere in Arizona. He huffs and stomps, his burst ego and hurt emotions coming to head as Nico with her sharp knife gaze asks what his problem is. It esculates from PDA accusations to food, to clothing to anything in between. Karolina is trying to mediate but is caught off guard by Alex’s vitriol and cruelty. Nico is harsh as well, feeding off her protective stance before her girlfriend.
Gert just wants to finish sewing the latest tear in Molly’s beanie but nothing is calming down and her blood is pumping. Her medication had finally run its course, the repetitive motion of sewing, of her walks, and quiet meditation and yoga with Karo when she has a moment, but her anxiety stirs a bubbles in her chest. Reedy sharp breath control and tight flexing of her fingers-- she longed for it to stop. But it was hard to maintain control her breathing the more Alex and Nico screamed at each other, hateful and Gert wishes that Chase was here to manhandle Alex away so Karolina could soothe Nico. But Chase took Molly to get firewood, but they’d be back soon, they had to be.
“You never told me Alex, how dare you--”
It always came back here, the root of the growing hate between Alex and Nico. Amy. Amy. Amy. Brilliant Amy who loved her sister and loved Alex and loved all of them who was dead in the ground for two years and Gert could see how it tore Nico apart, from the inside out and how it locked her away and down. They all learned to cope with that gnawing empty space beside them, and wasn't it just the worst that sometimes Gert thought Nico spent so much time altering her appearance was so when she looked at her reflection any sort of remaining resemblance to her sister was missing. Nico couldn’t do that anymore, Gert saw how she avoids mirrors, saw how Nico slid her eyes over those shared features and everyone saw it, how Amy looked faint in the face of her little sister. Two years later, and beneath the dark lipstick and eyeliner, as makeup got lower and lower on the Runaways Shopping List, the more everyone could see Amy. The more Nico had to be reminded by her own face that there was no older parallel, and that was aa horrifying as it was beautiful. To eternally be a living image of the lost, no wonder Tina sometimes couldn't look Nico right in the eyes.
“She was your sister but I loved her too, I loved her just as much. You have no idea how much I missed her. I loved her more than you, you didn’t even see anything was wrong!”
Gert moved before she could think, her mind fixating on the crushing agony on Nico’s face, the horror in Karolina’s eyes, Alex’s mouth flickering at the realization of his hurled words, Molly gasping across the clearing and the crumpling sound of firewood hitting the ground as Chase dropped what he carried. But Gert was already moving, already there, as Alex howled in pain, hand grasping his cheek as she panted from her quick pace.
“How-How dare you,” her hand stung and she felt something rear in her chest, a protective urge, a surge of sisterly rage and affection and a little madly she wondered if Amy was guiding her palm. “How could you even believe for a second that you loved Amy than her own fucking sister.”
That was the rub wasn’t it? Amy and Gert got each other, on a wavelength that only older siblings got, when they were young and Molly toddled after Gert and Gert was unused to having someone look at her with that adoration. Amy said it was their job to look after their little sister’s, that their role was to protect them, let them learn from their mistakes, to love them even when they thought the world hated them. There was nothing in the world Amy or Gert loved more than their respective siblings. Gert knew when Amy died that suicide wasn’t right, it was what they were told, but Amy would never, could never. Her breathing grew choppy and harsh, tears welling up in her eyes.
Amy couldn’t leave Nico, just as Gert couldn’t leave Molly, not without being ripped from them. Those few days Molly was gone tore a hole in her chest, ripped through her walls and straight to her chest as she so painfully missed her sister. How Amy could have even thought of committing suicide, leaving Nico alone to reel in the aftermath was tantamount to treason for the girl she knew. Gert learned how to be a sister from Amy.
“Amy loved Nico, more than anything else in this entire fucking world, don’t stand there and act like you know how Nico feels. We all miss Amy, we all loved her, but saying that you loved her most is disgraceful Wilder.” Her words are cutting broad strokes across his heart, she could see that painfully. “I can’t imagine how Nico feels, I don’t want to. I don’t want to think of what it would be like for my sister to die to lose her,” already the thought was ripping her carefully tender heart to shreds, bleeding and pounding in her chest. Her teeth clenching and eyes welling with furious tears at the thought of Molly cold and underground, baring her teeth to bear back on burning tears. “I think I would die a little too, I think I’d fucking lose it. I think I’d rather be in front of the bullet before it ever came to my little sister.” The last part came out in a harsh whisper, “So don’t you stand there Wilder and act like you loved Amy more than her own sister, Amy would have died before anything happened to Nico, just like I would for Molly. You might have been her best-friend Alex, but Nico is her sister.”
She is panting and Alex has actually stepped back, Nico is crying, silently while Karolina looks at Gert. She turns to see Chase standing there with pride in his eyes but Molly.
Molly is running right at her, colliding with her chest, butting her head under her chin and holding her tight and close while Nico looks at Molly with a mix of fondness and jealousy. Gert wonders how Nico could have gone two years alone, two days without Molly and Gert had been going mad. But two years knowing your sister would never come back, not ever, that she was lying under some grass and could never speak, hug, whisper, yell, laugh or touch her again made Gert wrap Molly up tightly, almost painfully tight trying to trap her little sister against her body, unwilling to entertain a single moment that Molly may one day not be there. Never be there again, like Amy.
Amy was murdered, for Gert knew that Amy loved Nico too much to leave willingly. Even before the mega-villian plot came to a head.
Molly is sobbing, whispering to not leave her, to never go away, that she loved her. Gert holds her tight and looks at Nico who is crumpling like a paper doll in water and turns away, curling into Karolina while Alex flees to the van to stew.
“Molls?” Her voice is a soft whisper, nose sniffing at raucous curls and tight ringlets, searching for her sister below it all. They looked nothing alike, and Gert wondered again how Nico could stand to look at herself and see pieces of Amy staring back.
“I love you,” hoarse and watery, Molly tucks closer and Gert knows it’ll be a cuddle night with her sister wrapped up against her, and Gert figures she’d wear a sweater to bed, Molly could get cold easily, she needed the blankets so Gert would just wear warm clothes and remind her sister that she was here and not leaving.
“I love you most,” her voice is uncharacteristically soft, she watches as Nico is tugged to the fire Chase was tending and was between Karolina and Chase, diminutive and dwarfed between them, “until the end of days.”
“Promise me one thing?”
“Don’t leave me alone.”
“I would never.”
It’s an empty promise she knows, because she knows when that final fight comes, that she is the expendable one, she is the spare, and she somehow is fine with that. As long as Molly knows the depth of her love was greater than that of the galaxy.
For a moment she could see a figure behind Nico, hand curling around dark pliant hair. Gert stares as the translucent figure fades.
“I’ll be there for you even after the galaxy fades Molly, I promise.” How could she not be, when Amy was still there watching over her own sister and suddenly Gert isn’t as afraid anymore. So she pulls Molly closer and waddle-walks to the fire and settles with her too-big little sister in her lap as she clings like a puppy and watches the clear figure of the long dead look at her before going away. Nico locks eyes with her and Gert stares straight her, Nico’s eyes flicker to Molly and Gert gives her a look.
Nico stares, and nods, a promise.
Molly would not be alone like Nico was when the time came, Gert would make sure of that.