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You Know I Used to Be on Fire

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Waiting for the elevator, Keeley is surprised and quite offended to see Rupert bloody Mannion step out of it. She holds her hand over the sensor to keep the door from closing, but turns to watch him walk away. “What are you doing here, prick?”

He laughs and shakes his head. “I don’t even know who you are.”

“Fuck off,” she tells him, slipping into the elevator and letting the doors close.

After a moment’s pause, she pulls up the Daily Mail on her phone and types Rupert’s name into the search bar. Whatever is going on, Rebecca is going to need to hear about it.

Keeley has a sinking feeling she already has.

Rebecca doesn’t know where she’s going when she leaves the club.

She’s in no shape to seek out Higgins. Going home feels like the worst option-- no amount of moving furniture around can remove the ghosts that haunt that house. But she’s used every ounce of her energy between Rupert and Ted. She’ll be useless at work.

Ignoring her buzzing phone and the tears tracking down her cheeks, she flicks on her turn signal and heads for Keeley’s house.

Rebecca’s office is empty when Keeley goes to check on her. She sits on the couch, refreshes the tabloids a few more times, and double checks she’s got alerts set for Rupert and Rebecca’s names both. Nothing new… yet.

Back into the elevator she goes. Dani, Isaac, and Sam are at the juice bar. Keeley joins them, grabbing a pina colada smoothie (non-alcoholic, unfortunately) from the pre-stocked fridge. “Have you boys seen Rebecca around?”

“Nope, sorry!”

Isaac gives Dani a look. “Dude, she came through the locker rooms, like, right in front of you. How did you not notice?”
“I had earbuds in! I always get lost in the music, you know this.”

Keeley waves a hand to interrupt them. “Sorry, why was she in the locker room?”

“She went to talk to Ted,” Sam says helpfully. “She was still in his office when I left.”

“Awesome, thank you.”

She taps her smoothie cup against Sam’s, and then heads once again for the elevator.

The wine at Keeley’s house is shit.

No wonder they’re almost always at Rebecca’s place.

She grabs the bottle anyway, pacing back through the house as she opens it. Her heels are by the door. Her blazer is slung over the back of a dining chair. She pulls her hair from its ponytail and tosses the hair tie somewhere random.

Keeley’s couch is too pink and furry for a proper nest of self-pity. Rebecca heads for the bedroom instead.

“Ted, there you are.” Keeley swings into Ted’s office, hanging onto the doorframe. “Sam said Rebecca was in here, have you seen her?”

“Oh, yeah, she came by and we talked about some stuff,” he says. “She seemed a little upset, actually. But hey, everyone makes dumb decisions sometimes.”

Keeley nods, even more worried now, but pauses suddenly before leaving. “Sorry, ‘stuff’? Like, she told you about the--”

“Yep.” Ted pops the ‘p’, seeming just as chill as normal.

“And everything is fine?”

“Oh, yeah. We’ll just be better going forward! Learn from our mistakes, and all that.” He smiles.

Keeley wants to dig further into how ridiculously genuine this man is, but her phone interrupts before she can say anything. It’s buzzing ridiculously in her pocket, but it’s not Rebecca responding to any of her texts.

Engaged & Pregnant!?

He Really Has Moved On!

Rupert Mannion Announces Fiancee’s Pregnancy Just Weeks After The Engagement!

“Fuck,” Keeley says, as several pieces fall into place. “Fuck, oh, shit, this is not good--”

“What’s not good?”

“I need to find Rebecca,” she says. “Like, now.”

Rebecca is slowly being absorbed by the mountain of pillows on Keeley’s bed. As long as she’s upright enough to drink her wine, she doesn’t care.

“I didn’t even want kids, anyway,” she says aloud, taking a swig from the bottle. “Fuck him. He can make all the shitty life decisions he wants. It doesn’t bother me.”

It does bother her, though.

Because it might be the wine buzz, but honest to god, she can’t remember if she went into her marriage wanting children. She remembers Rupert’s immovable ‘no’ on the subject, though, how he’d stood firm in every conversation. Even in the hospital at Nora’s birth-- had he been leering then, or is that her jaded hindsight replacing his expression? “This is the closest you’re gonna get to having one of those,” he’d said.

Rebecca closes her eyes, taking a long drink from the wine bottle.

Maybe she would’ve wanted kids, given the chance to think about it. Maybe she did, when she was a young, naive, stupid newlywed.

But Rupert had never cared what she wanted. Not one bit.

It’s not like that’s news to her now.

”You’ve reached Rebecca Welton, please leave a message if this is a personal matter. If not, please call the AFC Richmond office at 020-2714-6762.”

“Rebecca, I’ve called you like ten times,” Keeley groans. “I understand not wanting to talk to anyone right now, but can you just, I don’t know, respond to my texts so I know where you are? Because you totally ghosted everyone at the club, and now I’m at your house, and you’re not.” She sighs, accepting that her girlfriend isn’t going to answer the phone. “Call me back. I love you.”

She paces around Rebecca’s living room for a bit, just to make sure she hasn’t just gotten here ahead of her or anything. When there’s no sign of Rebecca after ten minutes, she sighs and heads back to her car.

“One more place to check.”

Rebecca is fully drunk by the time Keeley gets home.

She’d given up after half the bottle of wine, or maybe a little more, but the fuzzy disorientation that comes with being drunk has not wiped away her hot, frustrating anger at Rupert.

It hasn’t wiped away the pit of loneliness and melancholy in her stomach, either.

“There you are,” Keeley says, sounding relieved as she flops onto the bed next to Rebecca. “Hey.” She reaches out to hold her hand. “What happened?”

Rebecca groans, letting her head fall back and her eyes close. ”Fucking Rupert.”

Keeley nods, crawling up to wrap her arms around her. “It just hit the news, him and Bex… and she’s…”

“I know,” Rebecca says, her voice cracking. “I know. He told me himself. Came barging into my office like he owned the place, and I didn’t do a damn thing to stop him.” She laughs mirthlessly. “He acted like he was being Mr. Nice Guy, as if I would ever believe that. Acted like he was doing me a favor, telling me before it hit the news. But he just wanted to gloat. Get inside my head.” And he most certainly succeeded. “He had one fucking thing to say, and he said it.” She can’t look at Keeley right now, so she ends up staring at herself in the mirror. It’s much worse. “He made it very clear that it’s not that he never wanted children, like he always said. He just didn’t want them with me.”

Keeley looks shocked and outraged. “That bastard. I’ll kill him if you want. I’ll fucking do it!”

Rebecca shakes her head. “You don’t need to commit murder for me, Keeley.”

“Yeah, well, I will.” She wraps her arms around her, and the tight, warm hug actually feels really nice. “You know I’ll always fight for you.”

“I love you,” Rebecca mumbles, resting her head on Keeley’s shoulder. “And I can’t really talk about this right now, not least because I’m pretty fucking drunk, but still. Thank you for… being here.”

“You don’t have to talk,” Keeley murmurs. “And of course I’m gonna be here.” She kisses Rebecca’s hair. “I’m here as long as you need me.”

An hour later, Keeley is holding Rebecca in much the same way, surrounded by the same mess of pillows and blankets. But things are looking a little better.

She’s convinced her girlfriend to change into more comfortable clothes, namely one of Keeley’s t-shirts and Rebecca’s own leggings from her workout bag that stays here for the early mornings. And as the wine begins to wear off and Keeley microwaves potstickers for both of them, it seems like Rebecca does feel like talking, after all.

“I thought I was fine with not having kids,” she mumbles around a mouthful of pork dumpling. She washes it down with the water Keeley has provided in the hopes of helping her avoid a wine hangover. “I mean, let’s be clear, I am. I’m perfectly happy with my life as it is.”

Keeley stares at her for a minute, trying to gauge how serious she’s being, but as soon as Rebecca makes eye contact, they both burst into laughter.

“I meant about not having children,” Rebecca groans, flopping into the pillows. “I don’t… I don’t regret it. Especially not with that nightmare of a divorce. But I sort of wish I’d had more of a choice.” She turns her head to look at Keeley, and Keeley reaches out to brush her hair from her face. “He never gave me any fucking choice.”

“But you made it out the other end,” Keeley reminds her. “You did it. You survived. You’re free.”

Rebecca scoffs. “No, I’m not. Until a few hours ago, everything I did was purely to spite him. The press hounds me day in and day out, but they’ll always be on his side. He’s still got his hand around my fucking throat.” There’s pain written over her face like it’s been etched there. “He came to the club today just to break me, and god, he’s close. I’m so tired of fighting him. I’m so tired.”

Keeley doesn’t know what to say to that.

Her heart sinks as she tries and fails to find the worst to support her girlfriend. Swallowing hard, she sets the food aside and lays down with Rebecca, her head on her chest.

“Then let’s get some rest,” she says. “Tomorrow’s a new day. And you don’t have to fight him alone, Becca.” She kisses her cheek. “I’m always gonna be right here. I even talked to Ted, and he’s still on your side. I don’t think there’s a single person in the club who would choose Rupert over you.”

“I don’t deserve it,” Rebecca mumbles.

“Yeah,” Keeley insists, holding her tighter. “You do.”