Trista Hawke’s knuckles burned as she punched the wall a second time. So she did it for a third, and then a fourth, and then a...she lost count after a while. She couldn’t bring herself to care about the dents that were rapidly becoming full-blown holes. She couldn’t bring herself to care about how her mother was going to react when she saw it, how much it might cost to fix it, how they’d all been through enough grief already. She couldn’t bring herself to care that she didn't even blame her mother for what happened, not really, despite how desperately she wanted to. After all, she had only been trying to protect Bethany. Just as she had always done for her. Just as their father had. Because he had known first-hand what she and her sister would be in for if they didn’t. That didn’t make anything any better, however, as she punched the wall again.
The scene replayed in her head a thousand times as the knuckles on both hands bloodied, her forehead pressed hard into the wall as she struggled to breathe. Aveline Vallen, the Hawke siblings’ collective oldest friend, had come over to check on Bethany, as it was no secret she hadn’t been doing well. She was such a sweet girl, so full of love and compassion for everyone but herself, but try as she might to put everyone else’s needs first, to put everyone’s concerns at ease, she’d always worn her heart on her sleeve. “I’ll be fine,” she’d said so many times. They all thought, or at least hoped, it could turn out to be true. It didn’t.
Hawke—as her friends usually called her, although no one could say why or even when that started—remembered knocking on the door to Bethany’s room, Aveline right behind her, and receiving no answer. She remembered the way she’d screamed when she finally opened the door herself, and Aveline came rushing in to take in the sight as well. They had guessed Bethany just had headphones on or that perhaps she was on her computer, simply too distracted by whatever she could be doing to hear the repeated banging on the door. Neither of them had expected that Bethany would be in bed, empty bottles of Ambien, Klonopin, Percocet, Smirnoff haphazardly tossed on the floor beside her. She did have her headphones on, they were right about that. They could hear the faint sound of Mumford and Sons coming from them when they fell from her ears as Hawke violently shook her sister, trying to wake her, even though she felt the pronounced absence of warmth on Bethany’s skin, even though she knew it was far too late.
“Because death is just so full and man so small, and I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before…”
She remembered catching the lyrics and hitting the floor laughing. She hadn’t meant to, didn’t know why she was, but she couldn’t stop. She could only have imagined how Aveline must have been looking at her, but her awareness of Aveline’s very presence had disappeared entirely. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Bethany was gone, and she’d been in the next room when it occurred, and she hadn’t had a clue what was happening 15 feet away from her and now her sister was dead.
Her laughter finally turned to sobbing when she realised Aveline wasn’t actually present at all, when she noticed how distant Aveline’s choked cries of “Leandra, something’s happened” had sounded.
Aveline slumped down on the floor next to Hawke when she returned, her phone falling gracelessly from her hand unnoticed. “Your mother is on her way home,” she’d told her in a broken voice.
Leandra Amell-Hawke came home an indistinguishable amount of time later to the pair of them in very different states as the conversation started. Hawke found herself barely able to even show any emotion at all, a commonly used defense mechanism which she often considered to be one of her greatest assets, even if she never actually meant to use it, where Aveline couldn’t even try to keep hers contained.
“You knew, Leandra, we all knew it could come to this yet you refused—”
“You. Are. Not. Her. Mother.”
“And now neither are you! We could have done something, we could have found her real help. But we fucking didn’t so now she’s not your daughter, you’ve lost that privilege. Now she’s just fucking de—”
“How dare you come into my home and tell me how to manage my children? Who in the Void do you think you are?”
The shouting seemed to carry on for ages, or possibly no time at all, Hawke wouldn’t have known the difference. That is, until her focus was pulled by her mother’s shrill voice and sharp eyes suddenly set solely on her.
“And just where were you when Bethany needed you, hmm? How could you let this happen?”
Her only answer came in the form of silently turning around and heading to her room. She was certain her mother’s continued yelling had followed her, but she didn’t hear any of it. All she’d heard was the slam of the door behind her followed by the pounding of her own fists against the cold, hard wall which she could have sworn had by that point become the only thing keeping her tethered to reality.
That is, until she was torn away by unexpected arms folding tensely around her waist, Hawke’s fists punching the air as she struggled against Aveline’s grasp, finally thrusting them forward, both women’s knees hitting the ground hard.
“Dammit, Hawke,” Aveline nearly shouted as she held her grip. Ever the soldier, and as tall as she was toned, Hawke well knew she didn’t stand a chance against her in a game of pure physical strength, so after a moment she reluctantly acquiesced to her friend’s well-meaning restraint, stilling herself as best she could. “Do you know how hard it was to convince your mother to let me come up here alone? The last thing you need right now is her storming in after you.”
“Let her come, watch me give a fuck,” Hawke retorted, words pouring from her mouth faster than she could catch them. “She can lose two daughters today if that’s what’ll make it easier on her, sure, because fuck knows I was always just the burden she had to put up with to earn the gift of Bethany and Carver, and look where that’s gotten us all.”
Aveline was the first to stand, holding out a hand for Hawke to help her up. “Look, Hawke. First thing, grab some clothes, you’re coming home with me tonight and I’m not taking no for an answer, not from you and certainly not from your mother. Secondly...I have something I want to talk to you about, but it can wait for the time being. We’ll head over to my place, we’ll order some food—there’s this great little Rivaini restaurant that delivers—on me, and then we’ll talk. Okay?”
Hawke said nothing as she turned away, but quickly began piling clothes into a bag, followed by her laptop and its charger, along with the charger for her phone. She collected a few other items, her basic essentials, and tossed them into her purse, throwing the bags over her shoulders as she and Aveline started on their way out. She remained silent as they walked downstairs, especially as she moved past her mother calling after her, and finally into the car.
Aveline turned the key in the ignition and music started blaring from the speakers, the song playing starting from where it had left off when she last parked at the Hawkes’ home.
“Please tell Lucifer he can’t have this one, her spirit’s too strong. I can see the pain, it’s written all over your face. I can see the pain, you can make it all go away.”
Hawke once again couldn’t help but laugh. “How appropriate.”
“Fuck, Hawke,” Aveline cursed, her voice ridden with guilt as she abruptly slammed her finger into a button on the CD changer. “I forgot what I had on, I didn’t even think, I...I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Hawke shrugged as Mastodon cut off. “Song was over anyway.”
“There’s a fire starting in my heart reaching a fever pitch, it’s bringing me out the dark…”
She couldn’t help but laugh again at the replacement track that took over the brief silence that passed, a drastic shift from the music it had followed. “You’re so fucking weird.”
“That’s me,” she nodded as she turned onto the main road, and neither of them said a word for the remainder of the drive.